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Full text of "Spirit of Chambers's journal; original tales, essays, and sketches, selected from that work by William and Robert Chambers"

Presented to the 
LIBRARY of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

by 

Estate of the Late 
Mary Sinclair 



HANDBOUND 
AT THE 



SPIRIT 



CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL: 

ORIGINAL TALES, ESSAYS, AND SKETCHES, 
SELECTED FROM THAT WORK. 



IBV 
WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS. 



EDINBURGH : 

W. & R. CHAMBERS, WATERLOO PLACE ; AND 
ORR & SMITH, LONDON. 

1834. 










MAR30866 



iV 



J'Rl.VTED BY W. & R. CHAMBERS, 19, WATERLOO PLACE, EDINBURGH. 



NOTICE. 



BY the recommendation of a number of their friends and agents, 
MESSRS CHAMBERS have been induced to reprint a selection of the 
principal original articles of their JOURNAL ; in order that such 
individuals as ; might desire to possess those articles in a portable 
shape, distinct from the mass of compilations and extracts "with 
which they were accompanied in the numbers, might be gratified 
in their wish ; and in order that this new series of Essays, in which 
an attempt has been made, almost for the first time, to delineate 
the maxims and manners of the^ middle ranks of society, might 
have an opportunity, in the shape of a book, of attracting the 
attention of those by whom it might be overlooked in its original 
form and progressive mode of publication. 

The articles embodied in the present volume are chiefly selected 
from the forty earliest numbers of the JOURNAL. Should it be 
favourably received, the authors will probably, from time to time, 
throw further selections into the same form. 

EDINBURGH, February 12, 1834. 



CONTENTS. 



Lady Jean, a Tale, 

Fallacies of the Young " Fathers have Flinty Hearts," 

Bruntfield, a Tale of the Sixteenth Century, 

The Passing Crowd, .... 

A Tale of the Forty-Five, 

Removals, ..... 

Victims, . .... 

Fallacies of the Young." Acquaintances," 

Subjects of Conversation, 

Secure Ones, ..... 

To Scotland, ..... 

Story of Mrs Macfarlane, 

The Downdraught, 

Tale of the Silver Heart, . . 

Cultivations, ..... 

Fits of Thrift, ..... 

Susan Hamilton, a Tale of Village Life, 

Flitting Day, . . . > . 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

Page 

Fallacies of the Young " Debtors and Creditors," . 193 

General Invitations, . . . . 197 

Confessors, ..... 205 

A Chapter of Political Economy, . . . 209 

The Drama, ..... 214 

Recognitions, . . . . . 218 

The Ladye that I Love, . . . 226 

Pay your Debt! . . . 227 
Children, ... .238 

Tea-Drinking, . . 246 

Husbands and Wives, .... 249 

They, ...... 255 

Relations, . . . . . 258 

The Strangers' Nook, . . . . 261 

Nobody to be Despised, ... 265 

Trust to Yourself, . . . . 270 

Leisure, . . 275 
My Native Bay, . . .278 

Advancement in Life, . , . 279 

Controllers-General, . 286 

A Turn for Business, . . . 291 

Setting up, ..... 296 

Consuls, . ' . . 303 

Country and Town Acquaintances, . , . 309 

Where is my Trunk ? . . . . 314 



SPIRIT 



CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL- 



LADY JEAN A TALE. 

The Yerl o' Wigton had three dauchters, 

Oh, braw walie ! they were bonnie ! 
The youngest o' them, and the bonniest too, 

Has fallen in love wi' Richie Storie. 

Old Ballad. 

THE Earl of Wigton, whose name figures in Scottish annals 
of the reign of Charles the Second, had three daughters, 
named Lady Frances, Lady Grizel, and Lady Jean the 
last being by several years the youngest, and by many de 
grees the most beautiful. All the three usually resided 
with their mother at the chief seat of the family, Cumber- 
nauld House, in Stirlingshire ; but the two eldest were 
occasionally permitted to attend their father at Edinburgh, 
in order that they might have some chance of obtaining 
lovers at the court held there by the Duke of Lauderdale, 
while Lady Jean was kept constantly at home, and de 
barred from the society of the capital, lest her superior 
beauty might interfere with, and foil, the attractions of her 
sisters, who, according to the notion of that age, had a 
sort of right of primogeniture in matrimony, as well as in 
what was called heirship. 

It may be easily imagined that while the two marriage 
able ladies were enjoying all the delights of a third flat in 
one of the closes of the Canongate, spending their days in 
seeing beaux, and their nights in dreaming of them, Lady 
B 



2 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Jean led no pleasant life amidst the remote and solitary 
splendours of Cumbernauld, where her chief employment 
was the disagreeable one of attending her mother, a very in 
firm and querulous old dame, much given (it was said) to 
strong waters. At the period when our tale opens, Lady 
Jean's charms, though never seen in the capital, had begun 
to make some noise there ; and the curiosity excited re 
specting them amongst the juvenile party of the vice-regal 
court, had induced Lord Wigton to confine her ladyship 
even more strictly than heretofore, lest, perchance, some 
gallant might make a pilgrimage to his country-seat in 
order to behold her, and, from less to more, induce her to 
quit her retirement, in such a way as would effectually 
discomfit his schemes for the pre-advancement of his elder 
daughters. He had been at pains to send an express to 
Cumbernauld, ordering Lady Jean to be confined to the 
precincts of the house and the terrace-garden, and to be 
closely attended in all her movements by a trusty domestic. 
The consequence was, that the young lady complained 
most piteously to her deaf old lady-mother of the tedium 
and listlessness of her life, and wished with all her heart 
that she were as ugly, old, and happy as her sisters. 

Lord Wigton was not insensible to the cruelty of his 
policy, however well he might be convinced of its advan 
tage and necessity ; he loved his youngest daughter more 
than the rest ; and it was only in obedience to what he 
conceived to be the commands of duty, that he subjected 
her to this restraint. His lordship, therefore, felt anxious 
to alleviate in some measure the desagremens of her solitary 
confinement ; and knowing her to be fond of music, he 
had sent to her by the last messenger a theorbo lute, 
with which he thought she would be able to amuse herself 
in a way very much to her mind not considering that, 
as she could not play upon the instrument, it would be little 
better to her than an unmeaning toy. By the return of 
his messenger, he received a letter from Lady Jean, thank 
ing him for the theorbo, but making him aware of his 



LADY JEAN. 

oversight, and begging him to send some person who could 
teach her to play. 

The earl, whose acquirements in the philosophy of po 
litics had never been questioned, felt ashamed of having 
committed such a solecism in so trivial a matter ; and, like 
all men anxious to repair or conceal an error in judgment, 
immediately ran into another of ten times greater conse 
quence and magnitude : he gratified his daughter in her 
wish. 

The gentry of Scotland were at that time in the custom 
of occasionally employing a species of servants, whose ac 
complishments and duties would now appear of a very 
anomalous character, though at that time naturally arising 
from the peculiar situation of this country, in respect to its 
southern neighbour. They were, in general, humble men 
who had travelled a good deal, and acquired many foreign 
accomplishments ; who, returning to their native country 
after an absence of a few years, usually entered into the 
service of the higher class of families, partly as ordinary 
livery-men, and partly with the purpose of instructing the 
youth of both sexes, as they grew up and required such 
exercises, in dancing, music, writing, &c., besides a vast 
variety of other arts, comprehended in the general phrase 
of breeding. Though these men received much higher 
wages, and were a thousand times more unmanageable 
than common serving-men, they served a good purpose in 
those days, when young people had scarcely any other op 
portunities of acquiring the ornamental branches of educa 
tion, except by going abroad. It so happened, that not 
many days after Lord Wigton received his daughter's let 
ter, he was applied to for employment by one of these 
useful personages, a tall and handsome youth, apparently 
h've-and-twenty, with dark Italian-looking features, a slight 
moustache, and as much foreign peculiarity in his dress 
as indicated that he was just returned from his travels. 
After putting a few questions, his lordship discovered 
that the youth was possessed of many agreeable accom- 



4 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

plishments ; was, in particular, perfectly well qualified to 
teach the theorbo, and had no objection to entering the ser 
vice of a young lady of quality only, with the proviso that 
he was to be spared the disgrace of a livery. Lord Wig- 
ton then made no scruple in engaging him for a certain 
period ; and next day saw the youth on the way to Cumber- 
nauld, with a letter from his lordship to Lady Jean, setting 
forth all his good qualities, and containing among other 
endearing expressions, a hope that she would both benefit 
by his instructions, and be in the meantime content on 
their account with her present residence. 

Any occurrence at Cumbernauld, of higher import than 
the breaking of a needle in embroidering, or the miscarriage 
of a brewing of currant wine, would have been quite 
an incident in the eyes of Lady Jean ; and even to have 
given alms at the castle-gate to an extraordinary beggar, 
or to see so much as a stranger in the candle, might have 
supplied her with amusement infinite, and speculation 
boundless. What, then, must have been her delight, when 
the goodly and youthful figure of Richard Storie alighted 
one dull summer afternoon at the gate, and when the cre 
dentials he presented disclosed to her the agreeable purpose 
of his mission ! Her joy knew no bounds ; nor did she 
know in what terms to welcome the stranger : she ran from 
one end of the house to the other, up stairs and down 
stairs, in search of she knew not what ; and finally, in her 
transports, she shook her mother out of a drunken slum 
ber, which the old lady was. enjoying as usual in her large 
chair in the parlour. 

Master Richard, as he wAs commonly designated, soon 
found himself comfortably established in the good graces of 
the whole household of Cumbernauld, and not less so in 
the particular favour of his young mistress. Even the sour 
old lady of the large chair was pleased with his handsome 
appearance, and was occasionally seen to give a preterna 
tural nod and smile at some of his musical exhibitions, as 
much as to say she knew when he performed well, and 



LADY JEAN. 5 

was willing to encourage humble merit. As for Lady Jean, 
whose disposition was equally lively and generous, she 
could not express in sufficiently warm terms her admiration 
of his performances, or the delight she experienced from 
them. Nor was she ever content without having Master 
Richard in her presence, either to play himself, or to teach 
her the enchanting art. She was a most apt scholar so apt, 
that in a few days she was able to accompany him with the 
theorbo and voice, while he played upon an ancient harp 
sichord belonging to the old lady, which he had rescued 
from a lumber room, and been at some pains to repair. 
The exclusive preference thus given to music, for the time, 
threw his other accomplishments into the shade, while it, 
moreover, occasioned his more constant presence in the 
apartments of the ladies than he would have been other 
wise entitled to. The consequence was, that in a short 
time he almost ceased to be looked upon as a servant, and 
began gradually to assume the more interesting character 
of a friend and equal. 

It was Lady Jean's practice to take a walk prescribed 
by her father, every day in the garden, on which occasions 
the countess conceived herself as acting up to the letter 
of her husband's commands, when she ordered Master 
Richard to attend his pupil. This arrangement was ex- 
ceedingly agreeable to Lady Jean, as they sometimes took 
out the theorbo, and added music to the other pleasures of 
the walk. Another out-of-doors amusement, in which 
music formed a chief part, was suggested to them by the 
appropriate frontispiece of a book of instruction for the 
theorbo, which Master Richard had brought with him from 
Edinburgh. This engraving represented a beautiful young 
shepherdess, dressed in the fashionable costume of that 
period a stupendous tower of hair hung round with dia 
monds, and a voluminous silk gown with a jewel-adorned 
stomacher, a theorbo in her arms and a crook by her side 
sitting on a flowery bank under a tree, with sheep planted 
at regular distances around her. At a little distance ap- 



6 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

peared a shepherd with dressed hair, long-skirted coat, and 
silk stockings, who seemed to survey his mistress with a lan 
guishing air of admiration, that appeared singularly ridicu 
lous, as contrasted with the coquettish and contemptuous 
aspect of the lady. The plate referred to a particular song in 
a book, entitled " A Dialogue betwixt Strephon and Lydia, 
or the Proud Shepherdess's Courtship," the music of which 
was exceedingly beautiful, while the verses were the tamest 
and most affected trash imaginable. It occurred to Lady 
Jean's lively fancy, that if she and her teacher were to 
personify the shepherdess and shepherd, and thus, as it 
were, to transform the song to a sort of opera, making the 
terrace-garden the scene, not a little amusement might be 
added to the pleasure she experienced from the mere music 
alone. This fancy was easily reduced to execution ; for, 
by seating herself under a tree, in her ordinary dress, with 
the horticultural implement called a rake by her side, she 
looked the very Lydia of the copper-plate ; while Richard, 
standing at his customary respectful distance, with his hand 
some person, and somewhat foreign apparel, was a suffi 
ciently good representation of Strephon. After arranging 
themselves thus, Master Richard opened the drama by 
addressing Lady Jean in the first verse of the song, which 
contained, besides some description of sunrise, a compari 
son between the beauties of nature at that delightful period, 
and the charms of Lydia, the superiority being of course 
awarded to the latter. Lady Jean, with the help of the 
theorbo, replied to this in a very disdainful style, affecting 
to hold the compliments of lovers very cheap, and asseve 
rating that she had no regard for any being on earth besides 
her father and mother, and no care but for these dear 
innocent sheep (here she looked kindly aside upon a 
neighbouring bed of cabbages), which they had entrusted 
to her charge. Other verses of similar nonsense succeeded, 
during which the representative of the fair Lydia could not 
help feeling rather more emotion at hearing the ardent ad 
dresses of Strephon than was strictly consistent with her 



LADY JEAN. 7 

part. At the last it was her duty to rise and walk softly 
away from her swain, declaring herself utterly insensible to 
both his praises and his passion, and her resolution never 
again to see or speak to him. This she did in admirable 
style, though, perhaps, rather with the dignified gait and 
sweeping majesty of tragedy-queen, than with any thing 
like the pettish or sullen strut of a disdainful rustic ; mean 
while Strephon was supposed to be left inconsolable. Her 
ladyship continued to support her assumed character for a 
few yards, till a turn of the walk concealed her from Mas 
ter Richard ; when, resuming her natural manner, she 
turned back, with sparkling eyes, in order to ask his opi 
nion of her performances ; and it was with some confu 
sion, and no little surprise, that on bursting again into his 
sight, she discovered that Richard had not yet thrown off 
his character. He was standing still, as she had left him, 
fixed immovably upon the spot, in an attitude expressive 
of sorrow for her departure, and bending forwards as if 
imploring her return. It was the expression of his face 
that astonished her most ; for it was not at all an expres 
sion appropriate to either his own character or to that 
which he had assumed. It was an expression of earnest 
and impassioned admiration ; his whole soul seemed thrown 
into his face, which was directed towards her, or rather 
the place where she had disappeared ; and his eyes were 
projected in the same direction, with such a look as that 
perhaps of an enraptured saint of old at the moment when 
a divinity parted from his presence. This lasted, however, 
but for a moment ; for scarcely had that minute space of 
time elapsed, before Richard, startled from his reverie by 
Lady Jean's sudden return, dismissed from his face all 
trace of any extraordinary expression, and stood before 
her (endeavouring to appear) just what he was, her lady 
ship's respectful servant and teacher. Nevertheless, this 
transformation did not take place so quickly as to prevent 
her ladyship from observing the present expression, nor 
was it accomplished with such address as to leave her 



8 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS S JOURNAL. 

room for passing it over as unobserved. She was sur 
prised she hesitated she seemed, in spite of herself, con 
scious of something awkward and finally she blushed 
slightly. Richard caught the contagion of her confusion 
in a double degree ; and Lady Jean, again, became more 
confused on observing that he was aware of her confusion. 
Richard was the first to recover himself and speak. He 
made some remarks upon her singing and her acting not, 
however, upon her admirable performance of the latter 
part of the drama ; this encouraged her also to speak, and 
both soon became somewhat composed. Shortly after 
wards they returned to the house ; but from that moment 
a chain of the most delicate yet indissoluble sympathies 
began to connect the hearts of these youthful beings, so 
alike in all natural qualities, and so dissimilar in every ex 
traneous thing which the world is accustomed to value. 

After this interview there took place a slight estrange 
ment between Master Richard and Lady Jean, that lasted 
a few days, during which they had much less of both con 
versation and music than for some time before. Both 
observed this circumstance ; but each ascribed it to acci 
dent, while it was in reality occasioned by mutual reserve. 
.Master Richard was afraid that Lady Jean might be of 
fended were he to propose any thing like a repetition of 
the garden drama ; and Lady Jean, on her part, could not, 
consistently with the rules of maidenly modesty, utter even 
a hint at such a thing, however she might secretly wish or 
long for it. The very consciousness, reciprocally felt, of 
haying something on their minds, of which neither durst 
speak, was sufficient to produce the said reserve, though 
the emotions of " the tender passion" had not come in, as 
they did, for a large share of the cause. 

At length, however, this reserve was so far softened 
down, that they began to resume their former practice of 
walking together in the garden ; but though the theorbo 
continued to make one of the party, no more operatic per 
formances took place. Nevertheless, the mutual affection 



LADY JEAN. 

which had taken root in their hearts experienced on this 
account no abatement, but, on the contrary, continued to 
increase. 'As for Master Richard, it was no wonder that 
he should be deeply smitten with the charms of his mis 
tress ; for ever as he stole a long, furtive glance at her 
graceful form, he thought he had never seen, in Spain or 
in Italy, any such specimens of female loveliness ; and (if 
we may let the reader as far into the secret) he had indeed 
come to Cumbernauld with the very purpose of falling in 
love. Different causes had operated upon Lady Jean. 
Richard being the first love-worthy object she had seen 
since the period when the female heart becomes most sus 
ceptible the admiration with which she knew he beheld 
her his musical accomplishments, which had tended so 
much to her gratification all conspired to render him 
precious in her sight. In the words of a beautiful modern 
ballad, " all impulses of soul and sense had thrilled" her 
gentle and guileless heart 



-hopes, and fears that kindled hope, 



An undistinguishable throng, 

And gentle wishes, long subdued, 

Subdued and cherished long, 

had exercised their tender and delightful influence over 
her ; like a flower thrown upon one of the streams of her 
own native land, whose course was through the beauties, 
the splendours, and the terrors of nature, she was borne 
away in a dream, the magic scenery of which was alter 
nately pleasing, fearful, and glorious, and from which she 
could no more wake than could the flower restrain its course 
on the gliding waters. The habit of contemplating her 
lover every day, and that in the dignified character of an 
instructor, gradually blinded her in a great measure to his 
humbler quality, and to the probable sentiments of her 
father and the world upon the subject of her passion. If 
by any chance such a consideration was forced upon her 
notice, and she found occasion to tremble lest the senti 
ments in which she was so luxuriously indulging should 
c 



10 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

end in disgrace and disaster, she soon quieted her fears, 
by reverting to an idea which had lately occurred to her 
namely, that Richard was not what he seemed. She had 
heard and read of love assuming strange disguises. A 
Lord Belhaven, in the immediately preceding period of the 
civil war, had taken refuge from the fury of Cromwell in 
the service of an English nobleman, whose daughter's 
heart he won under the humble disguise of a gardener, and 
whom, on the recurrence of better times, he carried home 
to Scotland as his lady. This story was then quite popu 
lar, and at least one of the parties still survived to attest its 
truth. But even in nursery tales Lady Jean could find 
examples which justified her own passion. The vilest 
animals, she knew, on finding some beautiful dame, who 
was so disinterested as to fall in love with them, usually 
turned out to be the most beautiful princes that ever were 
seen, and invariably married and made happy the ladies 
whose affection had restored them to their natural form 
and just inheritance. Who knows, she thought, but Richard 
may some day, in a transport of passion, throw open his 
coat, exhibit the star of nobility glittering on his breast, and 
ask me to become a countess ? 

Such are the excuses which love suggests to reason, and 
which the reason of lovers easily accepts ; while those who 
are neither youthful nor in love wonder at the hallucination 
of their impassioned juniors. Experience soon teaches us 
that this world is not one of romance, and that few inci 
dents in life ever occur out of the ordinary way. But be 
fore we acquire this experience by actual observation, we 
all of us regard things in a very different light. The 
truth seems to be, that, in the eyes of youth, " the days 
of chivalry" do not appear to be "gone;" our ideas are 
then contemporary, or upon a par with the early romantic 
ages of the world ; and it is only by mingling with mature 
men, and looking at things as they are, that we at length 
advance towards, and ultimately settle down in, the real 
era of our existence. Was there ever yet youth who did 



LADY JEAN. 11 

not feel some chivalrous impulses some thirst for more 
glorious scenes than those around him some aspirations 
after lofty passion and supreme excellence or who did not 
cherish some pure first-love, that could not prudentially 
be gratified ? 

The greater part of the rest of the summer passed away 
before the lovers came to an eclaircissement ; and such, 
indeed, was their mutual reserve upon the subject, that, 
had it not been for the occurrence of a singular and decid 
ing circumstance, there appeared little probability of this 
ever otherwise taking place. The Earl of Home, a gay 
and somewhat foolish young nobleman, one morning after 
attending a convivial party where the charms of Lady Jean 
Fleming formed the principal topic of discourse, left Edin 
burgh and took the way to Cumbernauld, on the very pil 
grimage, and with the very purpose which Lord Wigton 
had before anticipated. Resolved first to see, then to 
love, and lastly to run away with, the young lady, his 
lordship skulked about for a few days, and at last had the 
pleasure of seeing the hidden beauty over the garden wall, 
as she was walking with Master Richard. He thought he 
had never seen any lady who could be at all compared to 
Lady Jean, and, as a matter of course, resolved to make 
her his own, and surprise all his companions at Edin 
burgh with his success and her beauty. He watched 
again next day, and happening to meet Master Richard 
out of the bounds of Cumbernauld policy, accosted him, 
with the intention of securing his services in making his 
way towards Lady Jean. After a few words of course, he 
proposed the subject to Richard, and offered a consider 
able bribe, to induce him to work for his interest. Richard 
at first rejected the offer, but immediately after, on be 
thinking himself, saw fit to accept it. He was to mention 
his lordship's purpose to Lady Jean, and to prepare the 
way for a private interview with her. On the afternoon 
of the succeeding day, he was to meet Lord Home at the 
same place, and tell him how Lady Jean had received his 



12 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

proposals. With this they parted Richard to muse on 
this unexpected circumstance, which he saw might blast 
all his hopes unless he should resolve upon prompt and 
active measures, and the Earl of Home to enjoy himself 
at the humble inn of the village of Cumbernauld, where 
lie had for the last few days enacted the character of " the 
daft lad frae Edinburch, that seemed to ha'e mair siller 
than sense." 

On the morning of the tenth day after Master Richard's 
first interview with Lord Home, that faithful serving-man 
found himself jogging swiftly along the road to Edinburgh, 
mounted on a stout nag, with the fair Lady Jean seated 
comfortably on a pillion behind him. It was a fine morn 
ing in autumn, and the road had a peculiarly gay appear 
ance from the multitude of country-people, mounted and 
dismounted, who seemed also hastening towards the capital. 
Master Richard, upon inquiry, discovered that it was the 
market-day, a circumstance which seemed favourable to his 
design, by the additional assurance it gave him of not be 
ing recognised among the extraordinary number of strangers 
who might be expected to crowd the city on such an oc 
casion. The lovers approached the city by the west, and 
the first street they entered was the suburban one called 
Portsburgh, which leads towards the great market-place of 
Edinburgh. Here Richard, impatient as he was, found 
himself obliged, like many other rustic cavaliers, to reduce 
the pace of his horse to a walk, on account of the narrow 
ness and crowded state of the street. This he felt the 
more disagreeable, as it subjected him and his interesting 
companion to the close and leisurely scrutiny of the inha 
bitants. Both had endeavoured to disguise every thing 
remarkable in their appearance, so far as dress and de 
meanour could be disguised ; yet, as Lady Jean could not 
conceal her extraordinary beauty, and Richard had not 
found it possible to part with a slight and dearly-beloved 
moustache, it naturally followed that they were honoured 
with a good deal of staring. Many an urchin upon the 



LADY JEAN. 13 

street threw up his arms as they passed along, exclaiming 
"Oh! the black-bearded man!" or, " Oh! the bonnie 
leddie!" the men all admired Lady Jean, the women 
Master Richard and many an old shoemaker ogled them 
earnestly over his half-door, with his spectacles pushed up 
above his dingy cowl. The lovers, who had thus to run a 
sort of gauntlet of admiration and remark, were glad when 
they reached an inn, which Richard, who was slightly ac 
quainted with the town, knew to be a proper place for the 
performance of a half-merk marriage. They alighted, and 
were civilly received by an obsequious landlady, who con 
ducted them into an apartment at the back of the house. 
There Lady Jean was for a short time left to make some 
arrangements about her dress, while Richard disclosed to 
the landlady in another room the purpose upon which he 
was come to her house, and consulted her about procuring 
a clergyman. The dame of the house, to whom a clandes 
tine marriage was the merest matter of course, showed the 
utmost willingness to facilitate the design of her guests, and 
said that she believed a clerical official might be procured 
in a few minutes, provided that neither had any scruples of 
conscience, as " most part of fouk frae the west had," in 
accepting the services of an Episcopal clergyman. The 
lover assured her that, so far from having any objection to 
" a government minister," for so they were sometimes 
termed, he would prefer such to any other, as both he 
and his bride belonged to that persuasion. The landlady 
heard this declaration with complacency, which showed 
that she loved her guests the better for it ; and told Richard 
that, if he pleased, she would immediately introduce to 
him the Dean of St Giles, who, honest man, was just 
now taking his meridian in the little back garret parlour, 
along with his friend and gossip, Bowed Andrew, the 
waiter of the West Port. To this Richard joyfully assented, 
and speedily he and Lady Jean were joined in their room 
by the said dean, a squat little gentleman, with a drun 
ken but important-looking face, and an air of consequen- 



14 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

tiality even in his stagger, that was partly imposing and 
partly ridiculous. He addressed his clients with a patron 
ising simper, of which the effect was grievously disconcerted 
by an unlucky hiccup, and in a speech which might have 
had the intended tone of paternal and reverend authority, 
had it not been smattered and degraded into shreds by the 
crapulous insufficiency of his tongue. Richard cut short 
his ill-sustained attempts at dignity, by requesting him to 
partake of some liquor. His reverence almost leaped at 
the proffered jug, which contained ale. He first took a 
tasting, then a sip shaking his head between next a 
small draught, with a still more convulsion-like shake of 
the head ; and lastly, he took a hearty and persevering swill, 
from the effects of which his lungs did not recover for at 
least twenty respirations. The impatient lover then begged 
him to proceed with the ceremony, which he forthwith 
commenced in presence of the landlady and the above- 
mentioned Bowed Andrew ; and in a few minutes, Richard 
and Lady Jean were united in the holy bands of matri 
mony. 

When the ceremony was concluded, and both the clergy 
man and the witnesses had been satisfied and dismissed, 
the lovers left the house, with the design of walking for 
wards into the city. In conformity to a previous arrange 
ment, Lady Jean walked first, like a lady of quality, and 
Richard followed closely behind, with the dress and de 
portment of her servant. Her ladyship was dressed in 
her finest suit, and adorned with her finest jewels, all 
which she had brought from Cumbernauld on purpose, in 
a mail or leathern trunk for such was the name then 
given to the convenience now entitled a portmanteau. 
Her step was light, and her bearing gay, as she moved 
along not on account of the success which had attended 
her expedition, or her satisfaction in being now united to 
the man of her choice, but because she anticipated the 
highest pleasure in the sight of a place whereof she had 
heard such wonderful stories, and from a participation in 



LADY JEAN. 15 

whose delights she had been so long withheld. Like all 
persons educated in the country, she had been regaled in 
her infancy with magnificent descriptions of the capital 
of its buildings, that seemed to mingle with the clouds 
its shops, which apparently contained more wealth than 
all the world beside of its paved streets (for paved 
streets were then wonders in Scotland) and, above all, of 
the grand folks who thronged its Highgates, its Canon- 
gates, and its Cowgates -people whose lives seemed a 
perpetual holiday, whose attire was ever new, and who 
all lived in their several palaces. Though, of course, 
Edinburgh had then little to boast of, the country people 
who occasionally visited it did not regard it with less 
admiration than that with which the peasantry of our 
own day may be supposed to view it now that it is some 
thing so very different. It was then, as well as now, 
the capital of the country, and, as such, bore the same 
disproportion in point of magnificence to inferior towns, 
and to the country in general. In one respect, it was 
superior to what it is at the present day namely, in 
being the seat of government and of a court. Lady Jean 
had often heard all its glorious peculiarities described by 
her sisters, who, moreover, sometimes took occasion to 
colour the picture too highly, in order to raise her envy, 
and make themselves appear great in their alliance and 
association with so much greatness. She was, therefore, 
prepared to see a scene of the utmost splendour a 
scene in which nothing horrible or paltry mingled, but 
which was altogether calculated to awe or to delight the 
senses. 

Her ladyship was destined to be disappointed at the 
commencement, at least, of her acquaintance with the 
city. The first remarkable object which struck her eye, 
after leaving the inn, w r as the high bow, or arch, of the 
gate called the West Port. In this itself there was no 
thing worthy of particular attention, and she rather di 
rected her eyes through the opening beneath, which half 



16 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

disclosed a wide space beyond, apparently crowded with 
people. But when she came close up to the gate, and 
cast, before passing, a last glance at the arch, she shud 
dered at the sight then presented to her eyes. On the 
very pinnacle of the arch were stuck the ghastly and wea 
therworn remains of a human head, the features of which, 
half flesh half bone, were shaded, and rendered still more 
indistinctly horrible by the long dark hair, which hung in 
meagre tresses around them. " Oh, Richard, Richard !" 
she exclaimed, stopping, and turning round, " what is that 
dreadful looking thing?" " That, madam," said Richard, 
without any emotion, "is the broken remnant of a west 
country preacher, spiked up there to warn his countrymen 
who may approach this port, against doing any thing to 
incur the fate which has overtaken himself. Methinks he 
has preached to small purpose, for yonder stands the gal 
lows, ready, I suppose, to bring him some brother in af 
fliction." " Horrible !" exclaimed Lady Jean; "and is 
this really the fine town of Edinburgh, where I was taught 
to expect so many grand sights ? I thought it was just one 
universal palace, and it turns out to be a great charnel- 
house !" " It is indeed more like that than any thing else 
at times," said Richard; "but, my dear Lady Jean, you 
are not going to start at this bugbear, which the very chil 
dren, you see, do not heed in passing." " Indeed I think, 
Richard," answered her ladyship, "if Edinburgh is to be 
all like this, it would be just as good to turn back at once, 
and postpone our visit till better times." " But it is not 
all like this," replied Richard ; " I assure you it is not. For 
heaven's sake, my lady, move on. The people are be 
ginning to stare at us. You shall soon see grand sights 
enough, if we were once fairly out of this place. Make 
for the opposite corner of the Grassmarket, and ascend the 
street to the left of that horrible gibbet. We may yet get 
past it before the criminals are produced." 

Thus admonished, Lady Jean passed, not without a 
shudder, under the dreadful arch, and entered the spacious 



LADY JEAN. 17 

oblong square called the Grassmarket. This place was 
crowded at the west end with rustics engaged in all the 
bustle of a grain and cattle market, and at the eastern 
and most distant extremity with a mob of idlers who had 
gathered around the gibbet, in order to witness the awful 
ceremony that was about to take place. The crowd, 
which was scarcely so dense as that which attends the 
rarer scene of a modern execution, made way on both 
sides for Lady Jean as she moved along ; and wherever 
she went, she left behind her a wake, as it were, of admi 
ration and confusion. So exquisite and so new a beauty, 
so splendid a suit of female attire, and such a stout and 
handsome attendant these were all alike calculated to 
inspire reverence in the minds of the beholders. Her 
carriage at the same time was so steady and so graceful, 
that no one could be so rude as to interrupt or disturb it. 
The people, therefore, parted when she approached, and 
left a free passage for her on all sides, as if she had been 
an angel or a spirit come to walk amidst a mortal crowd, 
and whose person could not be touched, and might scarcely 
be beheld whose motions were not to be interfered with 
by those among whom she chose to walk but who was 
to be received with prostration of spirit, and permitted to 
depart as she had come, unquestioned and unapproached. 
In traversing the Grassmarket, two or three young cox- 
combs, with voluminous wigs, short cloaks, rapiers, and 
rose-knots at their knees and shoes, who, on observing 
her at a distance, had prepared to treat her with a conde 
scending stare, fell back, awed and confounded, at her 
near approach, and spent the gaze, perhaps, upon the 
humbler mark of her follower, or upon vacancy. 

Having at length passed the gibbet, Lady Jean began 
to ascend the steep and tortuous street denominated the 
West Bow. She had hitherto been unable to direct any 
attention to what she was most anxious to behold the 
scenic wonders of the capital. But having now got clear 
of the crowd, and no longer fearing to see the gallows, she 

D 



18 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ventured to lift up her eyes and look around. The tall- 
ness and massiveness of the buildings, some of which bore 
the cross of the Knights Templars on their pinnacles, while 
others seemed to be surmounted or overtopped by still 
taller edifices beyond, impressed her imagination ; and the 
effect was rendered still more striking by the countless 
human figures which crowded the windows, and even the 
roofs of the houses, all alike bending their attention, as she 
thought, towards herself. The scene before her looked 
like an amphitheatre filled with spectators, while she and 
Richard seemed as the objects upon the arena. The 
thought caused her to hurry on, and she soon found her 
self in a great measure screened from observation by the 
overhanging projections of the narrower part of the West 
Bow, which she now entered. With slow and difficult, 
but stately and graceful steps, she then proceeded, till she 
reached the upper angle of the street, where a novel and 
unexpected scene awaited her. A sound like that of rush 
ing waters seemed first to proceed from the part of the 
street still concealed from her view, and presently ap 
peared round the angle the first rank of an impetuous 
crowd, who, rushing downward with prodigious force, 
would certainly have overwhelmed her delicate form, had 
she not dexterously avoided them, by stepping aside upon a 
projecting stair, to which Richard also sprung, just in time to 
save himself from a similar fate. From this place of safety, 
which was not without its own crowd of children, women, 
and sage-looking elderly mechanics, with Kilmarnock cowls, 
both in the next moment saw the massive mob rush past, 
like the first wave of a flood, bearing either along or down 
every thing that came in their way. Immediately after, 
but at a more deliberate pace, followed a procession of 
figures, which struck the heart of Lady Jean with as heavy 
a sense of sorrow as the crowd had just impressed with 
terror and surprise. First came a small company of the 
veterans of the city-guard, some of whom had perhaps 
figured in the campaigns of Middleton and Montrose, and 



LADY JEAN. 19 

whose bronzed inflexible faces bore on this melancholy oc 
casion precisely the same expression which they ordinarily 
exhibited on the joyful one of attending the magistrates 
at the drinking of the king's health on the 29th of May. 
Behind these, and encircled by some other soldiers of the 
same band, appeared two figures of a different sort. One 
of them was a young-looking, but pale and woe-worn man, 
the impressive wretchedness of whose appearance was 
strikingly increased by the ghastly dress which he wore. 
He was attired from head to foot in a white shroud, such 
as was sometimes worn in Scotland by criminals at the gal 
lows, but which was, in the present instance, partly as 
sumed as a badge of innocence. The excessive whiteness 
and emaciation of his countenance suited well with this 
dismal apparel, and, with the wild enthusiasm that kindled 
in his eyes, gave an almost supernatural effect to the whole 
scene, which rather resembled a pageant of the dead than 
a procession of earthly men. He was the only criminal ; 
the person who walked by his side, and occasionally sup 
ported his steps, being as the crowd whispered around, 
with many a varied expression of sympathy his father. 
The old man had the air of a devout Presbyterian, with 
harsh, intelligent features, and a dress which bespoke his 
being a countryman of the lower rank. According to the 
report of the bystanders, he had educated this his only 
son for the unfortunate Church of Scotland, and now at 
tended him to the fate which his talents and violent tem 
perament had conspired to draw down upon his head. If 
he ever felt any pride in the popular admiration with which 
his son was honoured, no traces of such a sentiment now 
appeared. On the contrary, he seemed humbled to the 
very earth with sorrow ; and though he had perhaps con- 
templated the issue now about to take place, with no small 
portion of satisfaction, so long as it was at a distance and 
uncertain, the feelings of a father had evidently proved too 
much for his fortitude when the event approached in all 
its dreadful reality. The emotions perceptible in that 



20 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

rough and rigid countenance were the more striking, as 
being so much at variance with its natural and character 
istic expression ; and the tear which gathered in his eye 
excited the greater commiseration, in so far as it seemed a 
stranger there. But the hero and heroine of our tale had 
little time to make observations on this piteous scene, for 
the train passed quickly on, and was soon beyond their 
sight. When it was gone, the people of the Bow, who 
seemed accustomed to such sights, uttered various expres 
sions of pity, indignation, and horror, according to their 
respective feelings, and then slowly retired to their dens in 
the stairs and booths which lined the whole of this ancient 
and singular street. 

Lady Jean, whose beautiful eyes were suffused with 
tears at beholding so melancholy a spectacle, was then ad 
monished by her attendant to proceed. With a heart 
hardened to all sensations of wonder and delight, she 
moved forward, and was soon ushered into the place called 
the Lawnmarket, then perhaps the most fashionable dis 
trict in Edinburgh, but the grandeur and spaciousness of 
which she beheld almost without admiration. The scene 
here was however much gayer, and approached more nearly 
to her splendid preconceptions of the capital than any she 
had yet seen. The shops were, in her estimation, very 
fine, and some of the people on the street were of that 
noble description of which she had believed all inhabitants 
of cities to be. There was no crowd on the street, which, 
therefore, afforded room for a better display of her stately 
and beautiful person ; and as she walked steadily onwards, 
still ushed (for such was then the phrase) by her hand 
some and noble-looking attendant, a greater degree of ad 
miration was excited amongst the gay idlers whom she 
passed, than even that which marked her progress through 
the humbler crowd of the Grassmarket. Various noble 
men, in passing towards their homes in the Castle Hill, 
lifted their feathered hats and bowed profoundly to the 
lovely vision ; and one or two magnificent dames, sweep- 



LADY JEAN. 21 

ing along with their long silk trains, borne up by livery 
men, stared at or eyed askance the charms which threw 
their own so completely into shade. By the time Lady 
Jean arrived at the bottom of the Lawnmarket, that is to 
say, where it was partially closed up by the Tolbooth, 
she had in a great measure recovered her spirits, and found 
herself prepared to enjoy the sight of the public buildings, 
which were so thickly clustered together at this central 
part of the city. She was directed by Richard to pass 
along the narrow road which then led between the houses 
and the Tolbooth on the south, and which, being con 
tinued by a still narrower passage skirting the west end 
of St Giles's church, formed the western approach to the 
Parliament Close. Obeying his guidance in this tortuous 
passage, she soon found herself at the opening or the square 
space, so styled on account of its being closed on more 
than one side by the meeting-place of the legislative as 
sembly of Scotland. Here a splendid scene awaited her. 
The whole square was filled with the members of the 
Scottish Parliament, barons and commons, who had just 
left the house in which they sat together with ladies, 
who on days of unusual ceremony were allowed to attend 
the house and with horses richly caparisoned, and co 
vered with gold-embroidered foot-cloths, some of which 
were mounted by their owners, while others were held in 
readiness by footmen. All was bustle and magnificence. 
Noblemen and gentlemen in splendid attire threaded the 
crowd in search of their horses ; ladies tripped after them 
with timid and careful steps, endeavouring, by all in their 
power, to avoid contact with such objects as were calculated 
to injure their fineries ; grooms strode heavily about, and 
more nimble lacqueys jumped every where, here and there, 
some of them as drunk as the Parliament Close claret could 
make them, but all intent on doing the duties of attendance 
and respect to their masters. Some smart and well-dressed 
young gentlemen were arranging their cloaks and swords, 
and preparing to leave the square on foot by the pass- 



22 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

age which had given entry to Master Richard and Lady 
Jean. 

At sight of our heroine, most of these gallants stood still 
in admiration, and one of them, with the trained assurance 
of a rake, observing her to be beautiful, a stranger, and not 
too well protected, accosted her in a strain of language 
which caused her at once to blush and tremble. Richard's 
brow reddened with anger, as he hesitated not a moment 
in stepping up and telling the offender to leave the lady 
alone, on pain of certain consequences which might not 
prove agreeable. " And who are you, my brave fellow ?" 
said the youth, with bold assurance. " Sirrah !" exclaimed 
Richard, so indignant as to forget himself, " I am that lady's 
husband her servant, I mean ;" and here he stopped short 
in some confusion. " Admirable !" exclaimed the other. 
" Ha ! ha ! ha ! ha 1 Here, Sirs, is a lady lacquey, who 
does not know whether he is his mistress's servant or her 
husband. Let us give him up to the town-guard to see 
whether the black-hole will make him remember the real 
state of the case." So saying, he attempted to push Richard 
aside, and take hold of the lady. But he had not time to 
touch her garments with so much as a finger, before her 
protector had a rapier flourishing in his eyes, and threat 
ened him with instant death, unless he desisted from his 
profane purpose. At sight of the bright steel, he stepped 
back one or two paces, drew his own sword, and w'as pre 
paring to fight, when one of his more grave associates called 
out, " For shame, Rollo ! with a lady's lacquey, too, and 
in the presence of the duke and duchess ! I see their royal 
highnesses, already alarmed, are inquiring the cause of the 
disturbance." It was even as this gentleman said, and 
presently came up to the scene of contention some of the 
most distinguished personages in the crowd, one of whom 
demanded from the parties an explanation of so disgraceful 
an occurrence. " Whyj here is a fellow, my lord," an 
swered Rollo, " who says he is the husband of a lady 
whom he attends as a livery-man, and a lady, too, the bon- 



LADY JEAN. 23 

niest, I dare say, that has been seen in Scotland since the' 
days of Queen Magdalen!" " And what matters it to 
you," said the inquirer, who seemed to be a Judge of the 
Session, " in what relation this man stands to his lady? 
Let the parties both come forward, and tell their ain tale. 
May it please your royal highness," he continued, address 
ing a very grave dignitary who sat on horseback behind 
him, as stiff and formal as a sign-post, "to hear the decla- 
ratur of thir twa strange incomers. But see see what is 
the matter with Lord Wigton ?" he added, pointing to an 
aged personage on horseback, who had just pushed forward, 
and seemed about to faint, and fall from his horse. The 
person alluded to, at sight of his daughter in this unex 
pected place, was in reality confounded, and it was some 
time before he mastered voice enough to ejaculate, " O, 
Jean, Jean ! what's this ye've been about ? or what has 
brocht you to Edinburgh ?" " And Lord have a care o' us!" 
exclaimed at this juncture another venerable peer, who had 
just come up, " what has brocht my sonsie son, Ritchie 
Livingstone, to Edinburgh, when he should have been 
fechtin' the Dutch by this time in Pennsylvania?" The 
two lovers, thus recognised by their respective parents, 
stood with downcast looks, and perfectly silent, while all 
was buzz and confusion in the brilliant circle around them ; 
for the parties concerned were not more surprised at the 
aspect *of their affairs, than were all the rest at the beauty 
of the far-famed but hitherto unseen Lady Jean Fleming. 
The Earl of Linlithgow, Richard's father, was the first to 
speak aloud, after the general astonishment had for some 
time subsided ; and this he did in a laconic though import 
ant query, which he couched in the simple words, " Are 
you married, bairns ?" " Yes, dearest father," said his son, 
gathering courage, and coming close up to his saddle-bow ; 
"and I beseech you to extricate Lady Jean and me from 
this crowd, and I shall tell you all when we are alone." 
" A pretty man ye are, truly," said the old man, who never 
took any thing very seriously to heart, " to be staying at 



24 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

hame, and getting yourself married, all the time you should 
have been abroad, winning honour and wealth, as your 
gallant granduncle did wi' Gustavus i' the thretties ! Hoo- 
ever, since better mayna be, I maun try and console my 
Lord Wigton, who, I doot, has the worst o' the bargain, 
ye ne'er-do-weel !" He then went up to Lady Jean's fa 
ther, shook him by the hand, and said, " that though they 
had been made relations against their wills, he hoped they 
would continue good friends. The young people," he ob 
served, " are no that ill matched ; and it is not the first 
time that the Flemings and the Livingstones have melled 
together, as witness the blithe marriage of the Queen's 
Marie to Lord Fleming, in the feifteen saxty-five. At any 
rate, my lord, let us put a good face on the matter, afore 
they glowering gentles and whipper-snapper duchesses. I'll 
get horses for the two, and they'll join the ridin' down the 
street; and deil hae me if Lady Jean disna outshine them, 
the hale o' them !" " My Lord Linlithgow," responded 
the graver and more implacable Earl of Wigton, *' it may 
set you to take this matter blithely ; but, let me tell you, 
it's a muckle mair serious affair for me. What think ye 
am I to do wi' Kate and Grizzy noo ?" " Hoot, toot, my 
lord," said Linlithgow, with a sly smile, " their chance is 
as gude as ever it was, I assure you, and sae will every body 
think that kens them. I -maun ca' horses though, or the 
young folk will be ridden ower, afore ever they do mair 
gude, by thae rampaugin' young men." So saying, and 
taking Lord Wigton's moody silence for assent, he pro 
ceeded to cry to his servants for the best pair of horses 
they could get ; and these being speedily procured, Lord 
Richard and his bride were requested to mount; after 
which, they were formally introduced to the gracious notice 
of the Duke and Duchess of York, and the Princess Anne, 
who happened to attend Parliament on this the last day of 
its session, when it was customary for all the members to 
ride both to and from the house in an orderly cavalcade. 
The order was now given to proceed, and the lovers were 



LADY JEAN. 25 

soon relieved, in a great measure, from the embarrassing 
notice of the crowd, by assuming a particular place in the 
procession, and finding themselves confounded with more 
than three hundred equally splendid figures. As the pa 
geant, however, moved down the High Street, in a conti 
nuous and open line, it was impossible not to distinguish the 
singular loveliness of Lady Jean, and the gallant carriage 
of her husband, from all the rest. Accordingly, the very 
trained bands and city-guard, who lined the street, and 
who were, in general, quite as insensible to the splendours 
of the Riding, as are the musicians in a modern orchestra 
to the wonders of a melo-drama in its fortieth night even 
they perceived and admired the graces of the young couple, 
whom they could not help gazing after with a stupid and 
lingering delight. From the windows, too, and the stair 
heads, their beauty was well observed, and amply conjec 
tured and commented on ; while many a young cavalier 
endeavoured, by all sorts of pretences, to find occasion to 
break the order of the cavalcade, and get himself haply 
placed nearer to the exquisite figure of which he had got 
just one killing glance in the square. Slowly and majesti 
cally the brilliant train paced down the great street of Edin 
burgh, the acclamations of the multitude ceaselessly ex 
pressing the delight which the people of Scotland felt in 
this sensible type and emblem of their ancient indepen 
dence. At length they reached the court-yard of Holy- 
rood-house, where the duke and duchess invited the 
whole assemblage to a ball, which they designed to give 
that evening in the hall of the palace ; after which, all de 
parted to their respective residences throughout the town, 
Lords Wigton and Linlithgow taking their young friends 
under their immediate protection, and seeking the residence 
of the former nobleman, a little way up the Canongate. 
In riding thither, the lovers had leisure to explain to their 
parents the singular circumstances of their union, and ad 
dress enough to obtain unqualified forgiveness for their im 
prudence. On alighting at Lord Wigton's house, Lady 



2G SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Jean found her sisters confined to their rooms with head- 
achs, or some such serious indisposition, and in the utmost 
dejection on account of having been thereby withheld from 
the riding of the Parliament. Their spirits, as may be sup 
posed, were not much elevated, when, on coming forth in 
dishabille to welcome their sister, they found she had had 
the good fortune to be married before them. Their ill 
luck was, however, irremediable ; and so, making a merit 
of submitting to it, they condescended to be rather agree 
able during the dinner and the afternoon. It was not long 
before all parties were perfectly reconciled to what had 
taken place ; and by the time it was necessary to dress for 
the ball, the elder young ladies declared themselves so 
much recovered as to be able to accompany their happy 
sister. The Earl of Linlithgow and his son then sent a 
servant for proper dresses, and prepared themselves for the 
occasion without leaving the house. When all were ready, 
a number of chairs were called to transport their dainty 
persons down the street. The news of Lady Jean's ar 
rival, and of her marriage, having now spread abroad, the 
court in front of the house, the alley, and even the open 
street, were crowded with people of all ranks, anxious to 
catch a passing glimpse of the heroine of so strange a tale. 
As her chair was carried along, a buzz of admiration from 
all who were so happy as to be near it, marked its pro 
gress. Happy, too, was the gentleman who had the good 
luck to be near her chair as it was set down at the palace 
gate, and assist her in stepping from it upon the lighted 
pavement. From the outer gate, along the piazza of the 
inner court, and all the way up the broad staircase to the 
illuminated hall, two rows of noblemen and gentlemen 
formed a brilliant avenue as she passed along, while a 
hundred plumed caps were doffed in honour of so much 
beauty, and as many youthful eyes glanced bright with sa 
tisfaction at beholding it. The object of all this attention 
tripped modestly along in the hand of the Earl of Linlith 
gow, acknowledging, with many a graceful flexure and un- 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG 27 

dulation of person, the compliments of the spectators. At 
length the company entered the spacious and splendid room 
in which the ball was to be held. At the extremity oppo 
site to the entry, upon an elevated platform, sat the three 
royal personages, all of whom, on Lady Jean's introduc 
tion, rose and came forward to welcome her and her hus 
band to the entertainments of Holyrood, and to hope that 
her ladyship would often adorn their circle. In a short 
time the dancing commenced ; and amidst all the ladies 
who exhibited their charms and their magnificent attire in 
that captivating exercise, who was, either in person or 
dress, half so brilliant as Lady Jean ? 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 

" FATHERS HAVE FLINTY HEARTS." 

I ONLY quote this popular expression from a very popular 
play, in order to warn my juvenile friends against being too 
much impressed by it. It is a fatal error running through 
nearly the whole mass of our fictitious literature, that pa 
rents are represented as invariably adverse, through their 
own cruel and selfish views, to the inclinations of their chil 
dren : either the glowing ambition and high spirit of the 
boy is repressed by the cold calculations of his father, who 
wishes him to become a mere creature of the counting-room 
and shop like himself; or the romantic attachment of the 
girl to some elegant Orlando, procures her a confinement 
to her chamber, with no other alternative than that of 
marrying a detestable suitor, whom her father prefers to 
all others on account of his wealth. Then, the boy al 
ways runs away from his 'father's house, and, by following 
his own inclinations, acquires fortune and fame ; while the 
girl as invariably leaps a three-pair-of-stairs window, and 



28 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

is happy for life with the man of her choice. The same 
dangerous system pervades the stage, where, I am sorry to 
remark, every vicious habit of society, and every impro 
priety in manners and speech, is always sure to be latest 
abandoned. 

I warn my juvenile readers most emphatically against 
the fallacy and delusion which prevails upon this subject. 
Fathers, as a class, have not flinty hearts, nor is it their 
wish or interest, in general, to impose a cruel restraint 
upon their children. Young people would do well to ex 
amine the circumstances in which they stand in regard to 
their parents and guardians, before believing in the reality 
of that schism which popular literature would represent as 
invariably existing between their own class and that of 
their natural protectors. The greater part, I am sure, of 
my young friends, must have observed, that, so long as they 
can remember, they have been indebted for every comfort, 
and for a thousand acts of kindness and marks of affection, 
to those endeared beings their father and mother. The 
very dawning light of existence must have found them in 
the enjoyment of many blessings procured to them solely 
by those two individuals. From them must have been de 
rived the food they ate, the bed they lay on, the learning 
at school which enabled their minds to appreciate all the 
transactions and all the wisdom of past times, and, greatest 
blessing of all, the habits of devotional exercise which ad 
mitted them to commune with their almighty Creator. 
Surely it is not to be supposed that, at a certain time, the 
kindness and friendship of these two amiable persons is all 
at once converted into a malignant contrariety to the inte 
rests of their children. Is it not far more likely, my dear 
young friends, that they continue, as ever, to be your well- 
wishers and benefactors : and that the opposition which 
they seem to set up so ungraciously against your inclina 
tions, is only caused by their sense of the dangers which 
threaten you in the event of your being indulged ? It may 
appear to you that no such danger exists : that your pa- 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 29 

rents are actuated by narrower and meaner views than your 
own, or that they do not allow for the feelings of youth. 
But they are in reality deeply concerned for the difference 
of your feelings from theirs ; they sympathise with them in 
secret, from a recollection of what were their own at your 
period of life ; but know, from that very experience of your 
feelings, and of their result, that it is not good for you that 
they should be indulged. You are, then, called upon 
and I do so now in the name of your best feelings, and as 
you would wish for present or future happiness to trust 
in the reality of that parental tenderness which has never, 
heretofore, known interruption, and in the superiority of 
that wisdom with which years and acquaintance with the 
world have invested your parents. 

Perhaps, my young friends, you may have perceived, 
even in the midst of your childish frolics and careless hap 
piness, that your parents were obliged to deny themselves 
many indulgences, and toil hard in their respective duties, 
in order to obtain for you the comforts which you enjoy. 
You may have perceived that your father, after he had re 
turned home from his daily employment, could hardly be 
prevailed upon to enter, as you wished, into your sports, 
or to assist you with your lessons, but would sit, in silent 
and abstracted reflection, with a deep shade of care upon 
his brow. On these occasions, perhaps, your amiable and 
kind protector is considering how difficult it is, even with 
all his industry, and all his denial of indulgences to himself, 
to procure for you an exemption from that wretchedness in 
which you see thousands of other children every day in 
volved. But though many are the cares which your pa 
rents experience, in the duty of rearing you to manhood, 
there is none so severe or so acute as that which comes 
upon them at the period of your entering into life. Hereto 
fore, you were simple little children, with hardly a thought 
beyond the family scene in which you have enjoyed so many 
comforts. Heretofore, with the exception of occasional 
rebukes from your parents, and trifling quarrels with your 



30 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

brothers and sisters, you have all been one family of love, 
eating at the same board, kneeling in one common prayer, 
loving one another, as the dearest of all friends. But now 
the scene becomes very different. You begin to feel, within 
yourselves, separate interests, and each thinks himself best 
qualified to judge for himself. At that moment, my young 
friends, the anxiety of your parents is a thousand times 
greater than it ever was before. Your father, probably, is 
a man of formed habits and character ; he occupies a cer 
tain respectable station in the world ; he has all his life been 
governed by certain principles, which he found to be con 
ducive to his comfort and dignity. But though he has 
been able to conduct himself through the world in this sa 
tisfactory manner, he is sensible, from the various and 
perhaps altogether opposite characters which nature has 
implanted in you, that you may go far wide of what have 
been his favourite objects, and perhaps be the means of 
impairing that respectability which he, as a single indivi 
dual, has hitherto maintained. It is often observed in life, 
that children who have been reared by poor but virtuous 
parents, as if their minds had received in youth a horror 
for "every attribute of poverty, exert themselves with such 
vigorous and consistent fortitude, as to end with fortune 
and dignity ; while the children, perhaps, of these indivi 
duals, being brought up without the same acquaintance 
with want and hardship, are slothful through life, and soon 
bring back the family to its original condition. If you then 
have been reared in easy circumstances, you may believe 
what I now tell you, that your approach to manhood or 
womanhood will produce a degree of anxiety in the breasts 
of your parents, such as would, if you knew it, make your 
very heart bleed for their distress, and cause you to appear 
as monsters to yourselves if you were to act in any great 
degree differently from what they wished. 

How much, then, is it your duty, my young friends, to 
treat the advices and wishes of your parents, at this period 
of life, with respect, knowing, as you do, that the future 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 31 

happiness of those dear and kind beings depends almost 
solely upon your conducting yourselves properly in your 
first steps into life ! Should you be so unfortunate as to be 
beguiled into bad company, or to contract a disposition to 
indulgences which are the very bane of existence, and the 
ruin of reputation, what must be the agony of those indi 
viduals who have hitherto loved and cherished you, and 
indulged, perhaps, in very different anticipations ! On the 
contrary, should you yield respect, as far as it is in your 
nature, to the maxims which your father has endeavoured 
to impress, with what delight does he look forward to your 
future success with what happy confidence does he rely 
upon your virtuous principles ! And may there be no hap 
piness to you, in contemplating the happiness which you 
have given to him ? Yes, much, I am sure, and of a purer 
kind than almost any which earthly things can confer upon 
you here below. 

I have one word to add, and it is addressed to the female 
part of my juvenile readers. Exactly as parents feel a con 
cern for the first appearance of their sons in the business 
of life, so do they experience many anxious and fearful 
thoughts respecting the disposal of their daughters in ma 
trimony. Wedded life, I may inform them, is not the sim 
ple matter which it appears prospectively in early and single 
life. As it involves many serious duties and responsibilities, 
it must be entered upon with a due regard to the means 
above all things, the pecuniary means of discharging these 
in a style of respectability, such as may be sufficient to sup 
port the dignity of the various connexions of the parties. 
It is, therefore, necessary that no person of tender years 
(this is most frequently the lot of the female) should con 
tract the obligations of matrimony, without, if possible, the 
entire sanction of parents or other protectors. The people 
of this country happen to entertain, upon this subject, no 
tions of not so strict a kind as are prevalent in most other 
nations. In almost all continental and all eastern countries, 
the female is reared by her friends as the destined bride of 



32 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

a particular individual, and till her marriage she is allowed 
no opportunity of bestowing her affections upon any other. 
The custom is so ancient and so invariable, that it is sub 
mitted to without any feeling of hardship ; and as prudence 
is the governing principle of the relations, the matches are 
generally as happy as if they were more free. Perhaps such 
a custom is inapplicable to this country, on account of our 
different system of domestic life ; but I may instance it, to 
prove to my fair young readers, that the control of parents 
over their choice of a husband ought to be looked upon as 
a more tolerable and advantageous thing, than their incli 
nations might be disposed to allow, or our popular literature 
represents it to be. 



BRUNTFIELD, 

A TALE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. 

THE war carried on in Scotland, by the friends and ene 
mies of Queen Mary, after her departure into England, was 
productive of an almost complete dissolution of order, and 
laid the foundation of many feuds which were kept up by 
private families and individuals long after all political cause 
of hostility had ceased. Among the most remarkable quar 
rels which history or tradition has recorded as arising out 
of that civil broil, I know of none so deeply cherished, or 
accompanied by so many romantic and peculiar circum 
stances, as one which took place between two old families 
of gentry in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. Stephen 
Bruntfield, laird of Craighouse, had been a zealous and disin 
terested partisan of the queen. Robert Moub ray of Barn- 
bougie was the friend successively of Murray and Morton, 
and distinguished himself very highly in their cause. Dur 
ing the year 1572, when Edinburgh castle was maintained 



BRUNTFIELD. 

by Kirkaldy of Grange in behalf of the queen, Stephen 
Bruntfield held out Craighouse in the same interest, and 
suffered a siege from a detachment of the forces of the re 
gent, commanded by the laird of Barnbougle. This latter 
baron, a man of fierce and brutal nature, entered life as a 
younger brother, and at an early period chose to cast his 
fate among the Protestant leaders, with a view of improv 
ing his fortunes. The death of his elder brother in rebel 
lion at Langside, enabled the Regent Murray to reward his 
services with a grant of the patrimonial estate, of which he 
did not scruple to take possession by the strong hand, to 
the exclusion of his infant niece, the daughter of the late 
proprietor. Some incidents which occurred in the course 
of the war had inspired a mutual hatred of the most intense 
character into the breasts of Bruntfield and Moubray ; and 
it was therefore with a feeling of strong personal animosity, 
as well as of political rancour, that the latter undertook the 
task of watching the motions of Bruntfield at Craighouse. 
Bruntfield, after holding out for many months, was obliged, 
along with his friends in Edinburgh castle, to yield to the 
party of the regent. Like Kirkaldy and Maitland of Lething- 
ton, he surrendered upon a promise of life and estate ; but 
while his two friends perished, one by the hand of the exe 
cutioner, the other by his own hand, he fell a victim to 
the sateless spite of his personal enemy, who, in conduct 
ing him to Edinburgh as a prisoner, took fire at some bitter 
expression on the part of the captive, and smote him dead 
upon the spot. 

Bruntfield left a widow and three infant sons. The lady 
of Craighouse had been an intimate of the unfortunate Mary 
from her early years ; was educated with her in France, in 
the Catholic faith ; and had left her court to become the 
wife of Bruntfield. It was a time calculated to change the 
natures of women, as well as of men. The severity with 
which her religion was treated in Scotland, the wrongs of 
her royal mistress, and finally the sufferings and death of 
her husband, acting upon a mind naturally enthusiastic, all 



SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

conspired to alter the character of Marie Carmichael, and 
substitute for the rosy hues of her early years, the gloom 
of the sepulchre and the penitentiary. She continued, af 
ter the restoration of peace, to reside in the house of her 
late husband ; but though it was within two miles of the 
city, she did not for many years re -appear in public. With 
no society but that of her children, and the persons neces 
sary to attend upon them, she mourned in secret over past 
events, seldom stirring from a particular apartment, which, 
in accordance with a fashion by no means uncommon, she 
had caused to be hung with black, and which was solely 
illuminated by a lamp. In the most rigorous observances 
of her faith, she was assisted by a priest, whose occasional 
visits formed almost the only intercourse which she main 
tained with the external world. One strong passion gra 
dually acquired a complete sway over her mind REVENGE 
a passion which the practice of the age had invested with 
a conventional respectability, and which no kind of religious 
feeling, then known, was able either to check or soften. So 
entirely was she absorbed by this fatal passion, that her 
very children, at length, ceased to have interest or merit 
in her eyes, except in so far as they appeared lik'ily to be 
the means of gratifying it. One after another, as they 
reached the age of fourteen, she sent them to France, in 
order to be educated ; but the accomplishment to which 
they were enjoined to direct their principal attention was 
that of martial exercises. The eldest, Stephen, returned, 
at eighteen, a strong and active youth, with a mind of lit 
tle polish or literary information, but considered a perfect 
adept at sword-play. As his mother surveyed his noble 
form, a smile stole into the desert of her wan and widowed 
face, as a winter sunbeam wanders over a waste of snows. 
But it was a smile of more than motherly pride : she was 
estimating the power which that frame would have in con 
tending with the murderous Moubray. She was not alone 
pleased with the handsome figure of her first-born child ; 
but she thought with a fiercer and faster joy upon the ap- 



BRUNTFIELD. 35 

pearance which it would make in the single combat against 
the slayer of his father. Young Bruntfield, who, having 
been from his earliest years trained to the purpose now 
contemplated by his mother, rejoiced in the prospect, 
now lost no time in preferring before the king a charge of 
murder against the laird of Barnbougle, whom he at the 
same time challenged, according to a custom then not alto 
gether abrogated, to prove his innocence in single combat. 
The king having granted the necessary licence, the fight 
took place in the royal park, near the palace ; and, to the 
surprise of all assembled, young Bruntfield fell under the 
powerful sword of his adversary. The intelligence was 
communicated to his mother at Craighouse, where she was 
found in her darkened chamber, prostrate before an image 
of the Virgin. The priest who had been commissioned to 
break the news, opened his discourse in a tone intended to 
prepare her for the worst ; but she cut him short at the 
very beginning with a frantic exclamation " I know what 
you would tell the murderer's sword has prevailed, and 
there are now but two instead of three, to redress their 
father's wrongs ! " The melancholy incident, after the first 
burst of feeling, seemed only to have concentrated and in 
creased that passion by which she had been engrossed for 
so many years. She appeared to feel that the death of her 
eldest son only formed an addition to that debt which it 
was the sole object of her existence to see discharged. 
" Roger," she said, " will have the death of his brother, 
as well as that of his father, to avenge. Animated by such 
a double object, his arm can hardly fail to be successful." 
Roger returned about two years after, a still handsomer, 
more athletic, and more accomplished youth than his bro 
ther. Instead of being daunted by the fate of Stephen, he 
burned but the more eagerly to wipe out the injuries of his 
house with the blood of Moubray. On his application for 
a licence being presented to the court, it was objected by 
the crown lawyers, that the case had been already closed 
by mat fortune of the former challenger. But while this 



36 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

was the subject of their deliberation, the applicant caused 
so much annoyance and fear in the court circle, by the 
threats which he gave out against the enemy of his house, 
that the king, whose inability to procure respect either for 
himself or for the law is well known, thought it best to de 
cide in favour of his claim. Roger Brunth'eld, therefore, 
was permitted to fight in barras with Moubray ; but the 
same fortune attended him as that which had already de 
prived the widow of her first child. Slipping his foot in 
the midst of the combat, he reeled to the ground, embar 
rassed by his cumbrous armour. Moubray, according to 
the barbarous practice of the age, immediately sprang upon 
and despatched him. " Heaven's will be done !" said the 
widow, when she heard of the fatal incident ; "butgratias 
Deo! there still remains another chance." 

Henry Bruntfield, the third and last surviving son, had 
all along been the favourite of his mother. Though ap 
parently cast in a softer mould than his two elder brothers, 
and bearing all the marks of a gentler and more amiable 
disposition, he in reality cherished the hope of avenging 
his father's death more deeply in the recesses of his heart, 
and longed more ardently to accomplish that deed than any 
of his brothers. His mind, naturally susceptible of the soft 
est and tenderest impressions, had contracted the enthu 
siasm of his mother's wish in its strongest shape ; as the 
fairest garments are capable of the deepest stain. The in 
telligence, which reached him in France, of the death of 
his brothers, instead of bringing to his heart the alarm and 
horror which might have been expected, only braced him 
to the adventure which he now knew to be before him. 
From this period, he forsook the elegant learning which he 
had heretofore delighted to cultivate. His nights were 
spent in poring over the memoirs of distinguished knights 
his days were consumed in the tilt-yard of the sword-player. 
In due time he entered the French army, in order to add 
to mere science that practical hardihood, the want of which 
he conceived to be the cause of the death of his brothers. 



BRUNTFIELD. 37 

Though the sun of chivalry was now declining far in the 
Occident, it was not yet altogether set : Montmorency was 
but just dead ; Bayard was still alive Bayard, the knight of 
all others who has merited the motto, " sans peur et sans 
reprochc." Of the lives and actions of such men, Henry 
Bruntfield was a devout admirer and imftator. No young 
knight kept a firmer seat upon his horse none complained 
less of the severities of campaigning none cherished lady's 
love with a fonder, purer, or more devout sensation. On 
first being introduced at the court of Henry the Third, he 
had signalised, as a matter of course, Catherine Moubray, 
the disinherited niece of his father's murderer, who had been 
educated in a French convent by her other relatives, and 
was now provided for in the household of the queen. The 
connection of this young lady with the tale of his own fa 
mily, and the circumstance of her being a sufferer in com 
mon with himself by the wickedness of one individual, 
would have been enough to create a deep interest respect 
ing her in his breast. But when, in addition to these cir 
cumstances, we consider that she was beautiful, was highly 
accomplished, and, in many other respects, qualified to en 
gage his affections, we can scarcely be surprised that that 
was the result of their acquaintance. Upon one point 
alone did these two interesting persons ever think differ 
ently. Catherine, though inspired by her friends from 
infancy with an entire hatred of her cruel relative, con 
templated, with fear and aversion, the prospect of her lover 
being placed against him in deadly combat, and did all in 
her power to dissuade him from his purpose. Love, how 
ever, was of little avail against the still more deeply-rooted 
passion which had previously occupied his breast. Flowers 
thrown upon a river might have been as effectual in stay 
ing its course towards the cataract, as the gentle entreaties 
of Catherine Moubray in withholding Henry Bruntfield 
from the enterprise for which his mother had reared him 
for which his brothers had died for which he had all along 
moved and breathed. 



38 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

At length, accomplished with all the skill which could 
then be acquired in arms, glowing with all the earnest 
feelings of youth, Henry returned to Scotland. On reach 
ing his mother's dwelling, she clasped him, in a transport 
of varied feeling, to her breast, and for a long time could 
only gaze upon his elegant person. " My last and dearest," 
she at length said, " and thou too are to be adventured 
upon this perilous course ! Much have I bethought me 
of the purpose which now remains to be accomplished. I 
have not been without a sense of dread lest I be only do 
ing that which is to sink my soul in flames at the day of 
reckoning ; but yet there has been that which comforts me 
also. Only yesternight I dreamed that your father ap 
peared before me. In his hand he held a bow and three 
goodly shafts at a distance appeared the fierce and sangui 
nary Moubray. He desired me to shoot the arrows at that 
arch traitor, and I gladly obeyed. A first and a second he 
caught in his hand, broke, and trampled on with contempt. 
But the third shaft, which was the fairest and goodliest of 
all, pierced his guilty bosom, and he immediately expired. 
The revered shade at this gave me an encouraging smile, 
and withdrew. My Henry, thou art that third arrow, 
which is at length to avail against the shedder of our blood. 
The dream seems a revelation, given especially that I may 
have comfort in this enterprise, otherwise so revolting to a 
mother's feelings." 

Young Bruntfield saw that his mother's wishes had only 
imposed upon her reason ; but he made no attempt to 
break the charm by which she was actuated, being glad, 
upon any terms, to obtain her sanction for that adventure 
to which he was himself impelled by feelings considerably 
different. He therefore began, in the most deliberate man 
ner, to take measures for bringing on the combat with Mou 
bray. The same legal objections which had stood against 
the second duel were maintained against the third ; but 
public feeling was too favourable to the object to be easily 
withstood. The laird of Barnbougle, though somewhat 



BRUNTFIELD. 39 

past the bloom of life, was still a powerful and active man, 
and, instead of expressing any fear to meet this third and 
more redoubted warrior, rather longed for a combat which 
promised, if successful, to make him one of the most re 
nowned swordsmen of his time. He had also heard of the 
attachment which subsisted between Bruntfield and his 
niece ; and, in the contemplation of an alliance which 
might give some force to the claims of that lady upon his 
estate, found a deeper and more selfish reason for accept 
ing the challenge of his youthful enemy. King James him 
self protested against stretching the law of the per duellum 
so far ; but, sensible that there would be no peace between 
either the parties or their adherents till it should be de 
cided in a fair combat, he was fain to grant the required 
licence. 

The fight was appointed to take place on Cramond Inch, 
a low grassy island in the Frith of Forth, near the castle 
of Barnbougle. All the preparations were made in the 
most approved manner by the young Duke of Lennox, who 
had been the friend of Bruntfield in France. On a level 
spot, close to the northern beach of the islet, a space was 
marked off, and strongly secured by a paling. The spec 
tators, who were almost exclusively gentlemen (the rabble 
not being permitted to approach), sat upon a rising ground 
beside the enclosure, while the space towards the sea was 
quite clear. At one end, surrounded by his friends, stood 
the laird of Barnbougle, a huge and ungainly figure, whose 
features displayed a mixture of ferocity and hypocrisy, in 
the highest degree unpleasing. At the other, also attended 
by a host of family allies and friends, stood the gallant 
Henry Bruntfield, who, if divested of his armour, might 
have realised the idea of a winged Mercury. A seat was 
erected close beside the barras for the Duke of Lennox and 
other courtiers, who were to act as judges ; and at a little 
distance upon the sea lay a small decked vessel, with a 
single male figure on board. After all the proper ceremo 
nies which attended this strange legal custom had been gone 



40 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

through, the combatants advanced into the centre, and, 
planting foot to foot, each with his heavy sword in his hand, 
awaited the command which should let them loose against 
each other, in a combat which both knew would only be 
closed with the death of one or other. The word being 
given, the fight commenced. Moubray, almost at the first 
pass, gave his adversary a cut in the right limb, from which 
the blood was seen to flow profusely. But Bruntfield was 
enabled, by this mishap, to perceive the trick upon which 
his adversary chiefly depended, and, by taking care to avoid 
it, put Moubray nearly hors de combat. The fight then pro 
ceeded for a few minutes, without either gaining the least 
advantage over the other. Moubray was able to defend 
himself pretty successfully from the cuts and thrusts of his 
antagonist, but he could make no impression in return. 
The question then became one of time. It was evident 
that, if no lucky stroke should take effect beforehand, he 
who first became fatigued with the exertion would be the 
victim. Moubray felt his disadvantage as the elder and 
bulkier man, and began to fight most desperately, and 
with less caution. One tremendous blow, for which he 
seemed to have gathered his last strength, took effect upon 
Bruntfield, and brought him upon his knee, in a half-stu- 
pified state ; but the elder combatant had no strength to 
follow up the effort. He reeled towards his youthful and 
sinking enemy, and stood for a few moments over him, 
vainly endeavouring to raise his weapon for another and 
final blow. Ere he could accomplish his wish, Bruntfield 
recovered sufficient strength to draw his dagger, and thrust 
it up to the hilt beneath the breastplate of his exhausted 
foe. The murderer of his race instantly lay dead beside 
him, and a shout of joy from the spectators hailed him as 
the victor. At the same instant, a scream of more than 
earthly note arose from the vessel anchored near the island : 
a lady descended from its side into a boat, and, rowing to 
the land, rushed up to the bloody scene, where she fell 
upon the neck of the conqueror, and pressed him, with 



THE PASSING CROWD. 41 

the most frantic eagerness, to her bosom. The widow of 
Stephen Bruntfield at length found the yearnings of twenty 
years fulfilled she saw the murderer of her husband, tlie 
slayer of her two sons, dead on the sward before her, 
while there still survived to her as noble a child as ever 
blessed a mother's arms. But the revulsion of feeling pro 
duced by the event was too much for her strength ; or, ra 
ther, Providence, in its righteous judgment, had resolved 
that so unholy a feeling as that of revenge should not be 
too signally gratified. She expired in the arms of her son, 
murmuring " Ntmc dimittis, Domine" with her latest 
breath, 

The remainder of the tale of Bruntfield may be easily 
told. After a decent interval, the young laird of Craighouse 
married Catherine Moubray ; and as the king saw it right 
to restore that young lady to a property originally forfeited 
for service to his mother, the happiness of the parties might 
be considered as complete. A long life of prosperity and 
peace was granted to them by the kindness of Heaven ; 
and at their death, they had the satisfaction of enjoying 
that greatest of all earthly blessings, the love and respect 
of a numerous and virtuous family. 



THE PASSING CROWD. 

" THE Passing Crowd" is a phrase coined in the spirit of 
indifference. Yet, to a man of what Plato calls " univer 
sal sympathies," and even to the plain ordinary denizens 
of this world, what can be more interesting than "the 
passing crowd?" Does not this tide of human beings, 
which we daily see passing along the ways of this world, 
consist of persons animated by the same spark of the divine 
essence, and partaking of the same high destinies with our 
selves '? Let us stand still but for a moment in the midst 



42 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

of this busy and seemingly careless scene, and consider 
what they are or may be whom we see around us. In 
the hurry of the passing show, and of our own sensations, 
we see but a series of unknown faces ; but this is no rea 
son why we should regard them with indifference. Many 
of these persons, if we knew their histories, would rivet 
our admiration by the ability, worth, benevolence, or piety, 
which they have displayed in their various paths through 
life. Many would excite our warmest interest by their suf 
ferings sufferings, perhaps, borne meekly and well, and 
more for the sake of others than themselves. How many 
tales of human weal and woe, of glory and of humiliation, 
could be told by those beings, whom, in passing, we regard 
not ! Unvalued as they are by us, how many as good as our 
selves repose upon them the affections of bounteous hearts, 
and would not want them for any earthly compensation ! 
Every one of these persons, in all probability, retains in 
his bosom the cherished recollections of early happy days, 
spent in some scene which " they ne'er forget, though there 
they are forgot," with friends and fellows who, though now 
far removed in distance and in fortune, are never to be 
given up by the heart. Every one of these individuals, in 
all probability, nurses still deeper in the recesses of feeling, 
the remembrance of that chapter of romance in the life of 
every man, an early earnest attachment, conceived in the 
fervour of youth, unstained by the slightest thought of self, 
and for a time purifying and elevating the character far 
above its ordinary standard. Beneath all this gloss of the 
world this cold conventional aspect, which all more or 
less present, and which the business of life renders neces 
sary there resides for certain a fountain of goodness, pure 
in its inner depths as the lymph rock-distilled, and ready 
on every proper occasion to well out in the exercise of 
the noblest duties. Though all may seem but a hunt after 
worldly objects, the great majority of these individuals can, 
at the proper time, cast aside all earthly thoughts, and com 
municate directly with the Being whom their fathers have 



THE PASSING CROWD. 43 

taught them to worship, and whose will and attributes have 
been taught to man immediately by Himself. Perhaps 
many of these persons are of loftier aspect than ourselves, 
and belong to a sphere removed above our own. But, 
nevertheless, if the barrier of mere worldly form were taken 
out of the way, it is probable that we could interchange 
sympathies with these persons as freely and cordially as 
with any of our own class. Perhaps they are of an infe 
rior order ; but they are only inferior in certain circum 
stances, which should never interpose to prevent the flow 
of feeling for our kind. The great common features of hu 
man nature remain ; and let us never forget how much 
respect is due to the very impress of humanity the type 
of the divine nature itself! Even where our fellow crea 
tures are degraded by vice and poverty, let us still be gentle 
in our judging. The various fortunes which we every day see 
befalling the members of a single family, after they part oft' 
in their several paths through life, teach us that it is not 
to every one that success in the career of existence is des 
tined. Besides, do not the arrangements of society at once 
necessitate the subjection of an immense multitude to hum 
ble toil, and give rise to temptations, before which the weak 
and uninstructed can scarcely escape falling ? But even 
beneath the soiled face of the poor artizan, there may be 
aspirations after some vague excellence, which hard fate has 
denied him the means of attaining, though the very wish 
to obtain it is itself e'nnobling. The very mendicant was 
not always so ; he, too, has had his undegraded and hap 
pier days, upon the recollection of which, some remnant 
of better feeling may still repose. 

These, I humbly think, are reasons why we should not 
look with coldness upon any masses of men with whom it 
may be our lot to mingle. It is the nature of a good man 
to conclude that others are like himself; and if we take the 
crowd promiscuously, we can never be far wrong in think 
ing that there are worthy and well-directed feelings in it as 
well as in our own bosoms. 



44 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 

NEVER, perhaps, did any city, upon the approach of a fo 
reign enemy, betray such symptoms of consternation and 
disorder, as did Edinburgh, on the 16th of September 1745, 
when it was understood that Prince Charles Edward, with 
his army of Highlanders, had reached a village three miles 
to the westward, unresisted by the civic corps in which the 
hapless city had placed its last hopes of defence. A regi 
ment of dragoons, which had retreated on the previous day 
from Stirling, and another which happened to be encamped 
near Edinburgh, having joined their strengths to that of 
the town-guard and volunteers, had that forenoon marched 
boldly out of town, with the determined purpose of oppos 
ing the rebels, and saving the town ; but after standing 
very bravely for a few hours at Corstorphine, the spectacle 
of a single Highlander, who rode up towards them and 
fired off his pistol, caused the whole of these gallant cava 
liers to turn and fly ; nor did they stop till they had left 
Edinburgh itself twenty miles behind. The precipitate 
flight of regular troops was the worst possible example for 
a body of raw, undisciplined citizens, who were too much 
accustomed to the secure comforts of their firesides, to 
have any relish for the horrors of an out-of-doors war with 
the unscrupulous mountaineers. The consequence was, 
that all retreated in confusion back to the city, where their 
pusillanimity was the subject of triumphant ridicule to the 
Jacobite party, and of shame and fear to the rest of the 
inhabitants. 

In this dilemma, as band after band poured through the 
West Port, and filled the ample area of the Grassmarket, 
the magistrates assembled in their council chamber, for the 
purpose of " wondering what was to be done." The re 
sult of their deliberations was, that a full meeting of tta 
inhabitants should be held, in order that they might be 
enabled to shape their course acccording to the general 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 45 

opinion. Orders were immediately given to this effect, 
and in the course of an hour, they found a respectable as 
semblage of citizens, prepared, in one of the churches of 
St Giles's, to consider the important question of thedefen- 
sibility of the town. 

The appearance of the city, on this dreadful afternoon, 
was very remarkable, and such as we hope it will never 
again exhibit. All the streets to the west of St Giles's 
were crowded with citizen volunteers, apparently irresolute 
whether to lay down their arms or to retain them, and whose 
anxious and crest-fallen looks communicated only despair to 
the trembling citizens. The sound of hammers was heard 
at the opening of every lane, and at the bottoms of all im 
portant turnpike stairs, where workmen were busied in 
mounting strong doors, studded thickly with nails, moving 
on immense hinges, and bearing bolts and bars of no ordi 
nary strength the well-known rapacious character of the 
Highlanders, not less than their present hostile purpose, 
having suggested this feeble attempt at security. The 
principal street was encumbered with the large, tall, pa 
vilion-roofed family carriages of people of distinction, judges, 
and officers of the crown, which, after being hastily cram 
med with their proper burdens of live stock, and laden a- 
top with as much baggage as they could carry, one after 
another wheeled off down the High Street, through the 
Netherbow, and so out of town. A few scattered groups 
of women, children, and inferior citizens, stood near that 
old-accustomed meeting place, the Cross, round the tall 
form of which they seemed to gather, like a Catholic po 
pulation clinging to a sacred fabric, which they suppose to 
be endowed with some protecting virtue. 

At the ordinary dinner hour, when the streets were as 
usual in a great measure deserted, and while the assem 
blage of citizens were still deliberating in the New Church 
aisle, the people of the High Street were thrown into a 
state of dreadful agitation, by a circumstance which they 
witnessed from their windows. The accustomed silence 



46 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

of " the hollow hungry hour" was suddenly broken by the 
clatter of a horse's feet upon the pavement ; and on run 
ning to their windows, they were prodigiously alarmed at 
the sight of one of their anticipated foes riding boldly up 
the street. Yet this alarm subsided considerably, when 
they observed that his purpose seemed pacific, and that 
he was not followed by any companions. The horseman 
was a youth apparently about twenty years of age, with a 
remarkably handsome figure and gallant carriage, which did 
not fail in their effect upon at least the female part of the 
beholders. The most robust Highland health was indi 
cated in his fair countenance and athletic form : and, in 
addition to this, his appearance expressed just enough of 
polish not to destroy the romantic effect produced by his 
wild habiliments and striking situation. The tight tartan 
trews showed well upon a limb, of which the symmetry 
was never equalled by David Allan, the national painter, 
so remarkable for his handsome Highland limbs, and of 
which the effect, instead of being impaired by the clumsy 
boot, was improved by the neat brogue, fastened as it was 
to the foot by sparkling silver buckles. He wore a smart 
round bonnet, adorned with his family cognisance a bunch 
of ivy and from beneath which, a profusion of light brown 
tresses, tied with dark ribbons, flowed, according to the 
fashion of the time, about half way down his back. He 
carried a small white flag in his hand, and bore about his 
person the full set of Highland arms broadsword, dirk, 
and two silver-mounted pistols. Many a warm Jacobite 
heart, male and female, palpitated at sight of his graceful 
figure, and a considerable crowd of idle admirers, or won- 
derers, followed him up the broad noble expanse of the 
High Street. 

By this crowd, who soon discovered that his purpose 
was the delivery of a letter from the chevalier to the ma 
gistrates, he was ushered forward to the opening of a nar 
row passage, which in those days led through a pile of 
buildings called the Luckenbooths, towards the door of 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 47 

Haddo's Hole Church, a passage called in the old Scottish 
language a stile, which, moreover, was traversed in 1628 
by King Charles the First, when he went to open the Scot 
tish Parliament in the High Tolbooth. Here the High 
lander dismounted, and after throwing his bridle over the 
hook at a saddler's door close to the corner of the stile, 
was led forward into the lobby of the church, from which 
the hum of active discussion was heard to proceed. On re 
questing to be introduced to the magistrates, he was in 
formed, by an official wearing their livery, that the church 
was so very much crowded, that " there would be nae pos 
sibility of either getting him in to see the magistrates, or 
the magistrates out to see him," but that his letter might 
be handed into them over the heads of the crowd. To 
this expedient the messenger consented, and accordingly 
it was immediately put in execution. In a few moments 
after it had left the keeper's hands, a dead silence seemed 
to fall upon the company, and, after a renewed tumult and 
a second silence, those who stood in the lobby heard a 
voice reading a few words aloud, apparently those of the 
letter. The voice was, however, interrupted in a few se 
conds by the clamour of the whole assembled people, who 
presently rose in confusion, and made a tumultuous rush 
towards the door. On hearing and observing these alarm 
ing symptoms, the city officer, with inconsiderate rashness, 
thought it his duty to seize the author of so much supposed 
mischief, and accordingly made a dash at the stranger's col 
lar, calling upon the town-guardsmen present to close in 
upon him, and intercept his retreat. But the prompt and 
energetic Highlander was not to be so betrayed. With 
a bound like the first movement of the startled deer, he 
cleared the lobby, and made for his horse. Two dragoons 
standing without, and who, observing the rush from the 
door, threw themselves in the stranger's way, were in the 
same instant felled to the ground ; and before any other 
person could lay hands upon him, the maltreated messenger 
threw himself upon his horse, drew his sword, and in a 



48 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

transport of rage shouted defiance to all around. Whirl 
ing his weapon round his head, he stopped a few seconds 
amidst the terrified crowd ; and then, striking spurs into 
his horse's sides, rode along the street, still vociferating 
loud defiances to all the detached military parties which he 
met. No attempt, however, was made to prevent his es 
cape, or to offer him farther violence. One symptom of 
offensive warfare alone occurred, and that originated in an 
accident ; for an old guardsman, who was overturned on 
the causeway by the brush of the passing steed, could riot 
help discharging his redoubted piece ; the shot, however, 
doing no other harm than winging a golden peacock, which 
overhung the window of a fashionable milliner in the fourth 
flat of the Luckenbooths. After clearing the narrow defile 
of the Luckenbooths, and getting into the full open street, 
the Highland cavalier for once turned round, and, with a 
voice broken by excess of indignation, uttered a thunder 
ing malediction against all Edinburgh for its breach of the 
articles of war, and a challenge to the prettiest man in it 
who would meet him upon honourable terms. He then 
galloped briskly down the High Street, still brandishing his 
broadsword, the people making way for him on all sides, 
by running down the numerous alleys leading from the 
street, and terminated his daring exploit, unscathed and 
undaunted, by passing out at the Netherbow Port, of which 
the enormous folding doors, like the turnpikes in John Gil- 
pin, flew open at his approach. 

It is irrelevant to our purpose to describe the consterna 
tion under which the inhabitants of Edinburgh passed the 
whole of that evening and night, or the real terror which 
next morning seized them, when they understood that the 
insurgents were in possession of the town. Moreover, as 
it would not be proper to encumber our narrative with 
well-known historical details, we shall also pass over the 
circumstances in this remarkable civil war which followed 
upon the capture of the city, and content ourselves with 
relating the simple events of a love tale, in which the hero 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 49 

just introduced to the notice of our readers acted a con 
spicuous part. 

About a month after the rebels had entered Edinburgh, 
and while Prince Charles Edward was still fondly lingering 
in the palace which had sheltered so many of his ancestors, 
a young gentlewoman, named Helen Lindsay, the daughter 
of a whig writer to the signet in Edinburgh, was one fine 
October evening taking a solitary walk in the King's Park. 
The sun had gone down over the castle, like the fire-shell 
dropping into a devoted fortress, and the lofty edifices of 
the city presented, on the eastern side, nothing but dark 
irregular masses of shade. The park, which a little before 
had been crowded with idle and well-dressed people, wait 
ing perhaps for a sight of the prince, was now deserted 
by all except a few Highland soldiers, hurrying to or 
from the camp at Duddingston, and by the young lady 
above mentioned, who continued, in spite of the deepening 
twilight, to saunter about, seeming to await the hour of 
some assignation. As each single Highland officer or group 
passed this lady, she contrived to elude their observation 
by an adroit management of her plaid ; and it was not till 
the gathering darkness rendered her appearance at such a 
time and place absolutely suspicious, that at length one gal : 
lant mountaineer made bold to accost her. " Ah, Helen !" 
he exclaimed, "how delighted am I to find you here; 
for I expected you to be waiting at the bottom of the Walk 
and thus I see you five minutes sooner than I otherwise 
would have done !" "I would rather wait near the palace 
than at that fearsome place, at this time o' nicht, William," 
said the young lady ; " for, let me tell you, you have been 
a great deal later o' comin' than you should have been." 
" Pardon me, my angel !" answered the youth ; "I have 
been detained by the prince till this instant. His royal 
highness has communicated to me no very pleasant intel 
ligence he is decisive as to our march commencing on the 
morning after to-morrow, and I am distracted to think of 
parting with you. How shall I how can I part with 



50 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

you?" "Oh! never mind that, Willie," cried the lady, 
in a tone quite different from his, which was highly ex 
pressive of a lover's misery; " if your enterprise prove 
successful, and you do not get your head broken, or beauty 
spoilt, you shall perhaps be made an earl, and marry some 
grand English countess ; and I shall then content myself 
with young Claver the advocate, who has been already so 
warmly recommended to me by my father, and who would 
instate me to-morrow, if I chose, as his wedded wife, in 
the fine house he has just bought in Forrester's Wynd." 
" To the devil with that beast !" cried the jealous lover 
in Gaelic. " Do you think, Helen, that I could ever 
marry any one but you, even though it were the queen on 
the throne? But perhaps you are not so very resolute in 
your love matters, and could transfer your affections from 
one object to another as easily and as quickly as you could 
your thoughts, or the glance of your eyes !" " Ah, Willie, 
Willie," said the lady, still in a jocular tone, " I see you are 
a complete Hielanter fiery and irritable. I might have 
kenned that the first moment I ever saw ye, when ye bra- 
vadoed a' Edinburgh, because a silly toon-officer tried to 
touch ye. Wad ye flee up, man, on your ain true love, 
when she merely jokes ye a wee ?" " Oh ! if that be all, 
Helen," said the youth humbly, " I beg your grace. Yet, 
methinks, this is no time for merriment, when we are about 
to part, perhaps for ever. How, dearest Helen, do you 
contrive to keep up your spirits under such circumstances?" 
" Because," said the young lady, " I know that there is 
no necessity for us parting, at least for some time to come ; 
for I am willing to accompany you, if you will take me, to 
the very world's end. There's sincerity and true love for 
you !" Surprised and delighted with this frank offer, the 
lover strained his mistress passionately to his bosom, and 
swore to protect her as his lawful wife till the latest mo 
ment of his existence. " You shall travel, " he said, " in 
my sister Lady Ogilvie's carriage, and be one of the first 
British ladies to attend the prince's levee in St James's at 



A TALE OF THE FORTY -FIVE. 51 

Christmas. Our marriage shall be solemnized at the end of 
the first stage." The project was less than rational ; but 
when was reason any thing to love ? Many avowals of 
mutual attachment passed between the parties ; and, after 
projecting a mode of elopement, they parted William 
Douglas taking the road for the camp at Duddingston, and 
Helen Lindsay hastily returning to the town. 

The morning of the 1st of November broke drearily 
upon Edinburgh, showing a dull frosty atmosphere, and 
the ground covered with a thin layer of snow. It was the 
morning of the march ; and here and there throughout the 
streets stood a few bagpipers, playing a reveille before the 
lodgings of the great officers of the clans. One or two 
chiefs were already marching down the street, preceded by 
their pipers, and followed by their men, in order to join the 
army, which was beginning to move from Duddingston. 
The Highland guard, which had been stationed, ever since 
the chevalier's arrival, at the Weigh-house, was now leav 
ing its station, and moving down the Lawnmarket to the 
merry sound of the bagpipe, when a strange circumstance 
occurred. 

Just as the word of command had been given to the 
Weigh-house guard, the sash of the window in the third 
floor of an adjacent house was pushed up, and immediately 
after, a female figure was observed to issue therefrom, and 
to descend rapidly along a rope towards the pavement be 
low. The commander of the guard no sooner perceived 
this, than he sprang forwards to the place where the figure 
was to alight, as if to receive her in his arms ; but he did 
not reach it before the lady, finding the rope too short by 
several yards, dropped with a slight scream upon the 
ground, where she lay apparently lifeless. The officer was 
instantly beside her and words cannot describe the con 
sternation and sorrow depicted in his face, as he stooped, 
and with gentle promptitude lifted the unfortunate lady 
from the ground. She had fainted with the pain of what 
soon turned out to be a broken limb ; and as she lay over 



52 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the Highlander's arm, her travelling hood, falling back from 
her head, disclosed a face which, though exquisitely beauti 
ful, was as pale and expressionless as death. A slight 
murmur at length broke from her lips, and a tinge of red 
returned to her cheeks, as she half articulated the word 
" William." William Douglas, for it was he, hung over 
her in silent despair for a few moments, and was only re 
called to recollection when his men gathered eagerly and 
officiously around him, each loudly inquiring of the other 
the meaning of this strange scene. The noise thus occa 
sioned soon had the effect of bringing all to an understand 
ing ; for the father of the lady, in a nightcap and morning 
gown, was first observed to cast a hurried glance over the 
still open window above, and was soon after in the midst 
of the group, calling loudly and distractedly for his daughter, 
and exclaiming vehemently against the person in whose arms 
he found her, for having attempted to rob him of his natu 
ral property. Douglas bethought himself for a moment, 
and, calling upon his men to close all round him and the 
lady, began to more away with his beloved burden, while 
the old gentleman loaded the air with his cries, and struggled 
forward with the vain intention of rescuing his daughter. 
The lover might soon have succeeded in his wishes, by 
ordering the remonstrant to be withheld, and taken home 
by his men ; but he speedily found that to take away his 
mistress in her present condition, and without the means 
of immediately relieving her, would be the height of cruelty ; 
and he therefore felt himself reluctantly compelled to re 
sign her to the charge of her parent, even at the risk of 
losing her for ever. Old Mr Lindsay, overjoyed at this 
resolution, offered to take his daughter into his own arms, 
and transport her back to the house ; but Douglas, heed 
ing not his proposal, and apparently anxious to retain his 
mistress as long as he could, saved him this trouble, by 
slowly and mournfully retracing his steps, and carrying her 
up stairs to her bedchamber his company meanwhile re 
maining below. He there discovered that Helen had been 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 53 

locked up by her father, who had found reason to suspect 
her intention of eloping, and that this was what occasioned 
her departure from the mode of escape previously agreed 
upon. After depositing her still inanimate person carefully 
on a bed, he turned for a moment towards her father, told 
him fiercely that if he exercised any cruelty upon her in 
consequence of what had taken place, he should dearly rue 
it ; and then, after taking another silent, lingering, farewell 
look of his mistress, left the house in order to continue his 
march. 

After this, another and longer interval occurs between 
the incidents of our tale ; and this may perhaps be profit 
ably employed in illustrating a few of the circumstances al 
ready laid partially before the reader. William Douglas 
was a younger son of Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie, 
the celebrated antiquary, and had been bred to the pro 
fession of a writer, or attorney, under the auspices of a 
master of good practice in Aberdeen. Being, however, a 
youth of sanguine temperament and romantic spirit, he did 
not hesitate a moment, on hearing of the landing of the 
chevalier, to break his apprenticeship, just on the point of 
expiring, and set off to rank himself under the banners of 
him whom he conceived entitled to the duty and assistance 
of all true Scotsmen. In consideration of his birth, and his 
connection with some of the very highest leaders in the 
enterprise, he was appointed aide-de-camp to the prince, 
in which capacity he had been employed to communicate 
with the city in the manner already described. As he rode 
up the High Street, and, more than that, as he rode down 
again, he had been seen and admired by Helen Lindsay, 
who happened to be then in the house of a friend near the 
scene of his exploit. Soon after the Highland army had 
taken possession of the city, they had met at the house of 
a Jacobite aunt of the young lady, and a passion of the 
tenderest nature then took place between them. To her 
father, who was her only surviving parent, this was quite 
unknown till the day before the departure of the High- 



54 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

landers, when some circumstances having roused his sus 
picions, he thought it necessary to lock her up in her own 
room, without, however, securing the window that part 
of a house, so useful and so interesting above all others to 
youthful lovers, the chink of Pyramus and Thisbe not ex- 
cepted. It only remains to be stated, that though the young 
lady recovered from the effects of her fall in a few weeks, 
she did not so soon recover from her disappointment, and 
she was doomed to experience a still greater affliction in 
the strange look with which she was afterwards regarded 
by her father and all her own acquaintance. 

William Douglas performed an active part in all the 
scenes of the rebellion, and finally escaped the perils of 
Culloden almost without a wound. He fled to his father's 
house, where he was received joyfully, and concealed for 
upwards of a twelvemonth, till the search of the royal 
troops was no longer dangerous. His father frequently 
entreated him to go abroad, but he would not consent to 
such a measure ; and at last, it being understood that go 
vernment had passed an ' ' act of oblivion" in regard of the 
surviving rebels, he ventured gradually and cautiously to 
appear again in society. All this time he had never com 
municated with Helen Lindsay, but his thoughts had of 
ten, in the solitude of his place of hiding, turned anxiously 
and fondly towards her. At length, to the surprise of his 
father, he one day expressed his desire of going to Edin 
burgh, and setting up there as a writer the profession to 
which he had been educated, and for which he could 
easily complete his qualifications. Sir Robert was by no 
means averse to his commencing business, but expressed 
his fears for the safety of his son's person in so conspicuous 
a situation in the capital, where the eyes of justice were 
constantly wide open, and where he would certainly meet 
with the most disagreeable recognitions. The lover over 
ruled all these obstructions, by asking the old gentleman 
whether he would wish to see his son perish in the West 
Indies, or become a respectable and pacific member of so- 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 55 

ciety in his own country ; and it was speedily arranged that 
both should set out for Edinburgh, in order to put the 
youth's purpose in execution, so soon as he should procure 
his indenture from his late master. In this no difficulty 
was experienced ; and in a few weeks the aged baronet set 
forth, accompanied by his son, on horseback, towards the 
city, which contained all the latter held dear on earth. 

On arriving at an inn in the Canongate, the first thing 
Sir Robert did, was to send a card to his cousin, the Earl 

of , informing his lordship of his arrival, and begging 

his company that evening at his hotel. The earl soon 
made his appearance, heartily welcomed the old gentleman 
to Edinburgh, and was introduced to young William. His 
lordship was sorry, however, that he could not stay long 

with them, as Lady was to have a ball that evening, 

where his presence was, of course, indispensable. He 
begged, however, to have the pleasure of their company at 
his house so soon as they could dress, when he would en 
deavour to entertain them, and, moreover, introduce his 
young kinsman to the chief beauties of Edinburgh. When 
he was gone, Sir Robert, alarmed at the idea of his son 
entering at once into an assemblage where many would re 
member his face, attempted to dissuade him from attending 
the ball, and offered to remain all the evening with him in 
the inn. But William insisted upon going, holding all dan 
ger light, and representing to his father, that, even though 
he were recognised, no one, even an enemy, would think 
of discovering him, that being generally held as a sin of the 
deepest dye. The truth was, that the earl's mention of 
beauties put him in mind of Miss Lindsay, and inspired him 
with a notion that she would be of the party, and that he 
might have an opportunity of renewing his acquaintance 
with her, which he could not easily procure otherwise. 
Both, therefore, prepared themselves for the ball, and, in a 
short time, set off in two chairs for Gray's Close, in which 
the earl's house was situated. 

That fine old spacious alley was found to be, on the pre- 



56 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

sent occasion, as splendid as it was possible for any close 
in Auld Reekie to be, under the double advantages of fa 
shion and festivity. Two livery-men stood at the head 
with torches, and served as a beacon to mark to the ga 
thering company the entrance of the strait into which they 
had to steer their way. Between the head of the lane and 
the vestibule of his lordship's house, other servants were 
planted with torches, so as to form an avenue of lights, 
along which the guests were ushered. All the guests, as 
they successively arrived, were announced at the head of 
the stair by a servant a custom recently adopted from 
London, and of little service in Edinburgh, where all peo 
ple knew each other by sight. It served, however, on the 
present occasion, to procure for Sir Robert and his son, 
immediately on their entering the room, a general and in 
stantaneous attention, which they would rather have 
dispensed with, and upon which they had not calculated. 
Both gentlemen were personally presented by their kins 
man, the earl, to many persons of distinction of both sexes, 
among whom Sir Robert (though he had been for twenty 
years estranged in a great measure from society, in the 
prosecution of his studies, and the management of his 
gout) soon recognised and entered into conversation with 
some old friends, while his son set himself to observe if 
Miss Lindsay was in the room. She was not present ; 
but, as company continued still to arrive, he entertained 
hopes that she would yet make her appearance. Disen 
gaging himself, therefore, from his father, he withdrew to 
a corner of the room, where he might see, without being 
easily perceived by any person entering ; and there, in si 
lence and abstraction, he awaited her probable arrival. 
Some minutes had elapsed after the last announcement ; 
and, in the idea that all were assembled, the earl had stood 
up at the head of a long double line of powdered beaux, 
and ladies with enormous hoops and high head-dresses, in 
order to lead off the first dance, when William Douglas 
heard the name of Mr and Miss Lindsay proclaimed at the 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 57 

head of the stair, and presently after saw an old precise- 
looking gentleman lead into the room the elegant figure of 
his long-lost mistress. He saw no more for some time ; 
for, while his blood rushed upwards to the heart in tumul 
tuous tide, a dimness came over his eyes, and obscured even 
the brilliant chandeliers that hung over the company. Cn 
recovering his powers of observation, the dance was done, 
and the floor cleared of its revellers, who now sat all round 
in full view. Some of the ladies were fanning themselves 
vehemently with their large Indian fans ; others were lis 
tening, with head awry, to the compliments of their part 
ners ; not a few were talking and coquetting with the 
gentlemen near them, and a great portion were sitting de 
murely and stiffly in groups, like hedgerow elms, under the 
awful patronage of their mothers or protectresses : all were 
companionable and looked happy, except one a silent and 
solitary one who, less attractively dressed than any of the 
rest, yet more beautiful than them all, sat pensively apart 
from the throng, apparently taking little interest in what was 
going on. Douglas needed no one to inform him that this 
was Helen Lindsay, though she was very different from the 
vivacious, sparkling girl she had been eighteen months be 
fore. He was shocked at the change he observed, and 
hastened to discover the cause, by inquiring of a silly -look 
ing young man near him who she was. " Oh ! that is Miss 
Lindsay," quoth the youth, who was no other than her an 
cient admirer, Claver, " said to be the prettiest girl in Edin 
burgh, though Miss Pringle for my money her you see with 
a flame-coloured sack, sitting next to the Lord Justice Clerk. 
To be sure, Miss Lindsay is not what she has been. I 
was once thought in love with her (here he simpered), but 
she was one morning found on the tramp with a rebel offi 
cer, who is said to have been hanged, and she has never 
since then held up her head as she used to do ; for, in 
deed, let me tell you, some of our great dames here affect 
to hold up their noses at her adventures ; so that, what 
with a lippit character and a hanged sweetheart, you see 



53 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

she looks somewhat dismal on it." Douglas durst make 
no farther inquiries, but shrunk back in the seclusion and 
concealment afforded by a corner of the room, from whence 
he continued, for some time longer, to watch his unhappy 
mistress his father, in the meantime, completely taken off 
his hands by a spectacled old maiden of quality, who had 
engaged him in a genealogical disquisition. By watching 
his opportunities, he contrived to place himself almost close 
beside his mistress, without being observed, and, gradually 
making still nearer approaches, he had at last the happi 
ness of finding himself upon the very next seat to her's. 
Whatever change disappointment and woe had wrought 
in her, it did not amount to a fourth of that which Wil 
liam had achieved in himself by a change of clothes, and 
taming down, to the expression of domestic life, a visage 
which had showed somewhat fierce and soldierly in the 
days of his acquaintance with Miss Lindsay. Instead of 
his former gallant and robust air, he was now pale and ele 
gant ; and though his eye still retained some of its fire, and 
his lip its wonted curve, the general change was such, and, 
moreover, the circumstances under which he was now seen 
were so different from those which surrounded and cha 
racterised him, that before any but a lover's eye, he might 
have passed without recognition. As the case was, Miss 
Lindsay discovered him at the first glance, and with diffi 
culty suppressing a scream, had nearly fainted with ex 
cessive emotion. In the words of Scotland's national 
poet 

She gazed, she redden'd like a rose, 
Syne pale as ony lily. 

But she expressed no farther emotion. With presence of 
mind which was not singular in those times of danger, she 
instantly recovered her tranquillity, though her eyes could 
not but express that she half-believed herself to be in the 
presence of a being out of this world. One affectionate look 
from William sufficed to put her alarm on that score to rest ; 
but she continued to feel the utmost apprehension respect- 



A TALE OF THE FORTY-FIVE. 59 

ing his safety, as well as a multitude of other confused emo 
tions, which fast awakened in her heart, as from his 
imaginary grave, where they had long been buried, and 
thronged tumultuously through her breast. A few words, 
heard by no ears but hers, stealing under cover of the noise 
made by the music and the dancers, like the rill under a 
load of snow, conveyed to her the delightful intelligence 
that he was still alive and her lover, and that he was come 
thus late, when the days of peril seemed past, and under 
happier auspices than before, to claim her affections, 
When the dancers next arose upon the floor, he respect 
fully presented his hand, and led her, nothing loath, into 

the midst of the splendid assemblage, where Lord , 

bustling about as master of the ceremonies, assigned them 
an honourable place, in spite of the surprised looks and 
reprobatory winks of not a few matrons as well as young 
ladies. The handsome and well-matched pair acquitted 
themselves to the admiration of the whole assemblage, 
except the censorious and the envious ; and when they sat 
down together upon the same seats from which they had 
risen, the speculation excited among the whole throng by 
the unexpected appearance of such a pair, was beyond all 
precedent in the annals of gossip. 

Not long after, supper was announced, and the company 
left the dancing-room in order to go down stairs to the apart 
ment where that meal was laid out. A ludicrous circum 
stance now occurred, which we shall relate, rather because 
it formed a part of the story, as told by our informant, than 
from any connection it has with the main incident. 

Sir Robert had all this time been so earnestly engaged in 
the genealogical discussion alluded to, that, interesting as 
the word supper always is on such occasions to those not 
given to dancing alone, he did not hear it. It was not till 
all were gone that he and the old spectacled lady discovered 
at what stage of the proceedings they were arrived. Recol 
lecting his old-fashioned politeness, however, in proper 
time, the venerable antiquary made his conge, and offered 



60 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

his hand to the tall, stiff, and rigid-looking dame, in order 
to escort her, more majorum, down stairs. Sir Robert was 
a man somewhat of the shortest, and, moreover, of the fat 
test, while a gouty foot, carefully swaddled, gave an infirm 
and tottering air to his whole person. As they moved along, 
the two antiques would have reminded one of Sancho Panza 
leading the distressed old spectacled duenna through the 
dark labyrinths of the duke's castle. Thus they went 
along the room, down the earl's narrow spiral stair, and 
through an ill-lighted passage, he cringing and limping, as 
gouty men are wont, and she sailing along, erect and dig 
nified, after the manner of an old maid of 1750, who had 
seen good company at the Hunters' Balls in Holyrood 
House. Now, it so happened that a servant, or, as some 
editions have it, a baker, had set down a small fruit pasty, 
contained in an oval dish, in a dark corner of the passage, 
intending immediately to return from the supper-room, to 
which he had carried some other dishes, in order to rescue 
it from that dangerous situation to which, indeed, he had 
been compelled to consign it, on finding that his hands were 
already over-engaged. Before he returned, as ill luck would 
have it, Sir Robert's gouty and clouty foot alighted full in 
the middle of the pasty, and stuck in it up to the ancle 
perfectly unconscious, however, in its swaddlings, of having 
so shod itself, so that the good baronet walked on with it 
into the room. What was his surprise, and what the mirth 
of the company, and what the indignation of the old duenna, 
on finding that she shared in the ridicule of her esquire, 
may perhaps be imagined, but cannot be adequately de 
scribed. Suffice it to say, that the whole assemblage were 
so delighted with the amusing incident, that not one face 
exhibited any thing of gloom during the subsequent part of 
the evening ; and even the young ladies were tempted to 
forget and forgive the good fortune of Miss Lindsay, in hav 
ing, to all appearance, so completely secured a first-rate 
lover. 

Our tale now draws to a conclusion, and may be sum- 



REMOVALS. 61 

med up in a few words. William Douglas soon settled in 
business as a writer to the signet, and found no obstacle 
on the part of either his parent or his mistress in uniting 
himself to that amiable young lady. It was known to a 
few, and suspected by more, that under the decent habit 
he now wore was concealed the very person who knocked 
down two of Gardener's dragoons in the Luckenbooths, 
and braved all Edinburgh to single combat. But he was 
never molested on this account ; and he therefore conti 
nued to practise in the Court of Session for upwards of half 
a century, with the success and with the credit of a respect 
able citizen. 



REMOVALS. 

' Three removes are as bad as a fire.' 
1 A rolling stone gathers no fog." 



Poor Richard. 



THERE is an allegory in the Spectator, called, if I recollect 
rightly, " The Mountain of Miseries." It narrates how 
the human race were once summoned by a good Genius 
to a particular spot, and each permitted to cast down the 
misery which most afflicted him, taking up some one which 
had belonged to a fellow-creature, and which he thought 
he should be more able to endure. Some cast down dis 
eased limbs, some bad wives, and so forth ; but the end 
of the story is, that after the exchange had been made, 
all felt themselves a great deal more uneasy under their 
adopted evils than they had ever felt under their natural 
ones, and, accordingly, had to petition the Genius for per 
mission to take back each his own proper original misery. 
I have often thought that the practice of removing from 
one house to another, in the hope of finding better ease 
and accommodation, was not much unlike this grand general 
interchange of personal distresses ; and often on a Whit- 



()2 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

sunday in Scotland, when I have seen people flying in all 
directions with old tables and beds, that would have looked 
a great deal better in their native homes than on the street, 
I have mentally compared the scene to that which is so 
graphically described by Addison. 

The English, it seems, are not much of a removing 
people. When a Southron once settles himself down in 
a house, he only quits it with the greatest reluctance. No 
matter for an increasing family no matter for bettered 
circumstances no matter for the ambition of wife or daugh 
ters to get into a genteeler neighbourhood. An English 
man has naturally a strong feeling about his house : it is 
his castle, and he never will abandon the fort so long as 
he can possibly retain it. Give him but a few years' as 
sociations to hallow the dwelling let him have been mar 
ried in it, and there spent the years of the youth of his 
children ; and sooner than part from the dear little parlour 
where he has enjoyed so many delightful evening scenes, 
with his young spouse and his happy infants around him, 
he would almost part with life itself. An Englishman gets 
accommodated to all the inconveniences of his house, how 
ever great, as naturally as the fish with its shell, however 
tortuous. Some strange angularity in his vestibule, which 
nearly throws you down every time you visit him, may ap 
pear to you a most disagreeable crook in his lot, and one 
that ought to make the house intolerable to him ; but, ten 
to one, he looks upon it as only an amiable eccentricity in 
the plan of the mansion, and, so far from taking ill with it, 
would feel like a fish out of water if it were otherwise. 

The Scotch, on the contrary, are an eminently migra 
tory people. They never are three months in any house 
till they wish that the annual term were once more at 
hand, when they might remove to another. There is no 
day in the year so important in their eyes as Whitsunday, 
when almost the whole population of every considerable 
town is found to be on the move, exchanging houses with 
each other. This is a curious feature in the people, and 



REMOVALS. 63 

seems as if it only could be accounted for by supposing 
that the nation is totally deficient in the phrenological organ 
called inhabitiveness. It is all to no use that experience is 
constantly showing how vain are their expectations of bet 
ter lodging. Every disappointment seems to give them but 
a keener relish for a new attempt. 

The fact is this : A family always enters upon a new house 
in a state of high hope as to its accommodations So long 
as the recollection of their deserted abode is still fresh, 
the new house appears a paradise ; for, mark, it has been 
selected on the express account of its not being character 
ised by any one of the inconveniences alleged against the 
old. By and bye, however, its own peculiar evils are felt ; 
and, long before Candlemas day, it has been found as dis 
agreeable as the other. Then a new one is selected, which, 
in its turn, is declared as bad as any. So far as my obser 
vation has extended, the itch for removing more generally 
prevails among the female than the male department of 
the population. Husbands in general are too little in the 
house ever to fall out of conceit with it ; but the wife, as 
the more domestic creature, has full opportunity to observe 
and feel its defects ; and she it is who most frequently urges 
and achieves the removal. There are various things about 
a house in which the husband can never see any import 
ance, or feel any interest, but which appear to the wife as 
each the most cardinal of all cardinal points. One of these, 
for instance, is a back-green. " A back -green !" let the 
words be pronounced with a solemnity befitting their aw 
ful import. Often, when a house has seemed to the hus 
band all that could be desired, he has been thrust out of 
it, whether he would or not, all on account of a thing 
which was as inexplicable to him as the mysteries of the 
Chinese faith a back-green. Perhaps you hear some day 
that your back -green lies totally out of the sun, or that the 
right use to it is shared by some disagreeable neighbours, 
or is naught for some other equally intelligible reason. But 
you learn no more, and next Whitsunday you find yourself 



64 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

in the horrors and agonies of a removal to some distant 
part of the town, all on account of a little space of ground, 
of which you never yet could guess the use or purpose. 
Very often you are removed from a comfortable and every 
way excellent house, because it wants a back -green, and 
taken to one every way inferior, and, indeed, utterly 
wretched, but which, in the eyes of your sweet spouse, 
is rendered equal to a palace because it has a back-green. 
I would advise all husbands to keep a sharp look-out after 
the back-greens, as well as several other things, which I 
shall point out to them. 

Let us suppose a case of proposed removal in the mid 
dle walks of life. You are, say, the father of a rather nu 
merous family, living very contentedly in aflat in not the 
least dense part of the town. For a long time there have 
been grumblings, like distant thunder among the mountains ; 
but you have never yet heard any very strong reason urged 
why you should remove. At length, about the New Year, 
these mutterings begin to get voice ; and your wife, some 
quiet evening, after all the young people are gone to bed, 
opens a sudden and most tremendous attack upon you, 
respecting the necessity of no longer keeping the children 
pent up in this small dwelling, so far from any play -ground 
or fresh air. And, really, she does not think it is good for 
her own health that you should live any longer here. She 
has plenty of exercise, she acknowledges, but no air. It 
is so far from public walks, that it makes a toil of a plea 
sure before they can be reached. And then, no place 
whatsoever to dry the clothes. Your own shirts are never 
properly seen to, being only hung in an open garret, where 
they are exposed to all the smoke of the town ; at least, 
all that chooses to come in at the skylights. And there is 
no such thing as a servant's bedroom in this house. The 
girl, I assure you, has her own complaints as to the hard 
ship of being obliged to sleep in that den above the kitchen 
door. And as for the stair, is it not a thoroughfare to all 
the scum of the town ? Some of the neighbours, I assure 



REMOVALS. 65 

you, are no better than they should be, if all tales be true. 
There is even an old man in the garret who is supposed to 
live by Burking. The fact is, we would now require an 
additional bed-room for the boys &c. &c. 

Lectured up to removing point, you consent, unhappy 
man ! to leave your shop some forenoon, in order to take 
a walk with your wife about the outskirts of the town, in 
search of a more airy, more spacious, and more genteel 
abode. You are dragged "by the lug and the horn," 
as shepherds say, through multitudes of those "delightful 
small self-contained houses," which offer, " within twenty 
minutes' walk of the college," all the elegancies of Heriot 
Row and Great King Street, at a tithe of the rent. You 
find them all as like each other in the interior as if they 
had been made on the principle of chip-boxes ; but yet, to 
your wife, each seems to have its own peculiar merits. 
One excels in the matter of a lobby ; another has an extra 
closet ; a third affords a superior view from the drawing- 
room windows ; and a fourth O merit above all merits ! 
transcends its fellows in the article of a back -green. 
Every thing, however, is inspected every thing is taken 
into the general account ; and the result of the whole is, 
that though the rent is ten pounds higher, and the dining- 
room a thought less than in your present abode, you must 
remove. The carpets, with a very little eeking and clipping, 
will all suit. Your sideboard, of which your spouse has a 
measure in her reticule, will exactly answer the recess de 
voted to it. The jack in the kitchen answers to a tee ; 
and even the scraper at the door has something about it 
that is singularly appropriate, as if the builder at the very 
first had designed to take the measure of your foot. All 
things appear, in the showing of your good dame, to be so 
remarkably answerable and proper, that you half believe it 
to be a matter of destiny, and, in completing your arrange 
ments, hardly bargain so much with the landlord as with 
Fate. 

During the spring months which elapse before the day 
G 



66 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

of removal, you live in a state of dreamy bliss respecting 
your new house. Almost every fine morning you rise 
about seven for a walk, and, by a strange chance, you in 
variably take the house of promise in your way, and enjoy 
a survey of its external excellencies. When you observe, 
from the closed shutters, that its present occupants, so far 
from being agog about it like yourself, are snugly snoozing 
in their beds, you wonder at their indifference. If you 
were they, you would have been up hours ago, enjoying 
the air in the back -green, or playing the king of the Van 
dals in the front-plot. What a pity to see that splendid 
ruin of a rhododendron drooping in that fashion ! What 
a shame to pay so little attention to the boxwood ! At 
length, the 25th of May arrives. You transfer yourself to 
the now vacated tenement, pitying with all your heart the 
stupid people who have left it. For a time, a kind of honey 
moon delirium pervades the household. You certainly do 
find some pleasure in contemplating from your drawing- 
room windows the cattle in the neighbouring grass -park, 
even though sensible all the time that they are only kept 
there inpetto by the exterminating butcher at the end of " the 
Row." Your wife, too, reposes upon the joys of her back- 
green with a gratulation of spirit that seems as if it could 
never know an end. And while the servant girl rejoices 
in a chamber to herself, your boys have sport unceasing in 
pasting over the kitchen door with pictures and excellent 
new songs. But all this only holds good while summer 
lasts summer, during which no house ever appears in 
convenient or disadvantageous. By and bye comes the win 
ter of your discontent. The views from the window are 
no longer fair ; the back-green, which already in autumn 
had begun to lose its character as a playground, in con 
sequence of the swarms of creeping things, which covered 
the walls in such a way as if they had a design to form a 
living entomological museum, and so fairly frightened the 
children into the house, is now a sink of mud and melting 
snow ; the serving-wench finds that it was better to sleep 



REMOVALS. (17 

.in " that den above the kitchen door" in so far as the said 
den was very " cosey" than to lie in a chamber under the 
slates, exposed to the malevolence of the elements in all 
its shapes. You find, too, that in the short days it is not 
very agreeable to walk several times to and from town in 
the dark, through a district which, in the language of 
house-proprietors, " has the advantage of being out of 
the bounds of police." The phrase, " within twenty 
minutes' walk of the College," appears to you as only 
calculated for the faculties of some itinerating prodigy, in 
as much as it never takes you less than twice the time. 
The worthy housewife herself, after long suffering in secret, 
and great reluctance to confess her counsel wrong, has to 
complain at last of "the distance from the market," which 
obliges her to buy every thing from small dealers in the 
neighbourhood, who necessarily must make up for uncertain 
custom by " two prices." No getting so much as a penny 
worth of vegetables without sending for it nearly a mile ; 
and then " that creature Jenny," there is no sending her 
out, you know, even upon the shortest errand, but she 
stays an hour. When we want even so much as change 
for a shilling, there is no getting it nearer than Port Hope- 
toun, which is half a mile away. Then we are such a dis 
tance from the kirk. It is only in fine weather we are able 
to get that length, and at most only once in the day. I 
declare, if we stay here much longer, we shall become ab 
solute heathens. Although, to be sure, we pay less taxes 
in this out-of-the-way place than we did before, have we 
not lost a washing-tub, from there being no police ? And 
then, is there not a toll-bar betwixt us and the town, at 
which we must pay one shilling every time we have to go 
out or come home in a coach ? And, above all things, we' 
are cut off here from all our friends and acquaintances. 
We do not know a soul nearer hand than the Duncans, 
who live at the back of the Meadows. And there is no 
dropping in here, in an easy way, upon a forenoon call, 
but the people, when they reach us, are so much fatigued 



SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

with the distance, that they must be asked to stay to din 
ner : and the case ends, perhaps, with the good man being 
obliged to walk three miles home with a young lady at 
twelve o'clock at night ! Only think of that ! No, no, 
this cold, outlandish, genteel place, will never do. Give 
me a good front door in the New Town, " with all the con 
veniences," and I'll leave such places as this to them that 
like them better. 

When once a resolution is formed to leave a house, it is 
amazing how many holes are picked in its character, many 
of them literal. The wind gets in at a hundred places ; 
we can see daylight through stone walls and double-deaf 
ened ceilings. Then, there is such a draught up the stair 
case, and into the best bed-room, that positively there is 
no enduring it. I think another six months of this house 
would fairly make an end of me. It's not a house for ten 
der folk. You might sometimes as well sit in the open 
street, as by the fireside. You burn your shins, and all 
the time your back is freezing. Upon my word, I think 
we should save all the difference between this and a front 
door in doctors' bills ! 

* A front door is then determined upon ; and you think 
you have at length, by a little stretch of your purse, reached 
the very perfection of comfort. But alas ! "fronti nulla 
fides," which is as much as to say, there is no reliance to 
be placed on a front door. It is true, you escape all the 
evils of your former habitation, and that nothing can match 
your back kitchen as a convenience to the servants. But 
then the family living above you has twice your number of 
children ; and these imps seem to do nothing whatever the 
whole day long, from six in the morning till seven at night, 
but run pat, pat, pat, along the floors overhead, till they 
almost drive you mad, non vi sed scepe cadendo. Even the 
charms of a back-green, or a superior scullery, will not 
stand against this ; and so you determine at last to go to 
an upper flat in the same neighbourhood, where you may 
have the pleasure of tormenting some person below with 



REMOVALS. 

your children, without the risk of being at the same time 
tormented yourself. The last selection is made upon mo 
derate arid prudent principles ; but yet hope is also even 
here upon the wing. The house has no pretensions to 
style or external gentility, but yet " Edwin was no vulgar 
boy." The stair is remarkably spacious and well lighted, 
and has, further, the advantage of a door at the bottom, 
which can be opened by any inhabitant, by means of a pul 
ley, without the necessity of descending to the bottom. 
In fact, it is what I would call a genteel stair. " The Steven - 
sons" live in the first fiat. The kitchen door has a nice 
hole at the lower corner for the cat ; and what a delightful 
place there is by the side of the fire for the lamp, or where 
we could keep our salt dry in a, pig! The request of the 
Regent Earl of Mar, as inscribed on the front of his house 
at Stirling, 

" I pray all lukaris on this ludging 
With gentil ee to gif their judging," 

comes powerfully into force in all cases where the tenant is 
just entering upon his house. As in the other case every 
fault is exaggerated, and made the subject of congratulatory 
disgust, so in this, every fault is extenuated. " The ceil 
ings are a little contracted, I see, by the roof." " Oh ! a 
wee thought coomceyled a very small matter ; these rooms 
are only intended for the children. We have some capital 
public rooms at the back, looking into the Queen Street 
gardens, and have a little peep of the sea in the distance." 
*' Upper flats," observes your Malagrowther friend, " are 
very apt to smoke." " Oh ! not at all, I assure you. But 
I have been assured that Dr Bonnyman cured this house 
entirely some years ago, and since then there has never been 
a single puff of smoke." " Your nursery is in the garret ; 
don't you think the children will feel it rather cold ?" " Oh, 
the most comfortable nursery in the world ; and see, only 
see,, what a nice door there is at the top of the garret stair 
to prevent the bairns from tumbling down!" " I am 
sorry, however, to see a green-wife established so close be- 



70 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

neath the door, at the bottom of your common stair." " Oh, 
Sir, but consider the convenience of the greens." In fact, 
there is no peculiarity about the house, however trifling, 
but, in the eyes of a new tenant, it will seem a beauty, as in 
those of a departing one it will constitute a disgrace. And 
this is just the philosophy of the question, and the real 
cause why there is so much useless tossing and tumbling 
of old furniture on each 25th of May. 



VICTIMS. 

THE industrious classes of the middle rank are, on the one 
hand, attracted onwards to wealth and respectability, by 
contemplating men, formerly of their own order, who hav 
ing, as the saying is, feathered their nests, now lie at ease, 
a kind of conscripti patres ; while they are, on the other 
hand, repelled from the regions of poverty and disgrace by 
the sight of a great many wretched persons, who having, 
under the influence of some unhappy star, permitted their 
good resolutions of industry and honour to give way, are 
sunk from their former estate, and now live if living it can 
be called in a state of misery and ignominy almost too pain 
ful to be thought of. There may be a use in this as there 
is a use for beacons and buoys at sea. But oh, the deso 
lation of such a fate ! As different as the condition of a 
vessel which ever bends its course freely and gallantly over 
the seas, on some joyous expedition of profit or adventure, 
compared with one which has been deprived of all the 
means of locomotion, and chained down upon some reef 
of rocks, merely to tell its happier companions that it is to 
be avoided ; so different is the condition of a man still en 
gaged in the hopeful pursuits of life, and one who has lost 
all its prospects. 

The progress of men who live by their daily industry, 



VICTIMS. 71 

through this world, may be likened, in some respects, to 
the march of an army through an enemy's country. He 
who, from fatigue, from disease, from inebriety, from se 
vere wounds, or whatever cause, falls out of the line of 
march, and lays him down by the wayside, is sure, as a 
matter of course, to be destroyed by the peasantry ; once 
let the column he belongs to pass on a little way ahead, 
and death is his sure portion. It is a dreadful thing to fall 
behind the onward march of the world. 

VICTIMS the word placed at the head of this article is 
a designation for those woe-begone mortals who have had 
the misfortune to drop out of the ranks of society. Every 
body must know more or less of victims, for every body 
must have had to pay a smaller or greater number of half- 
crowns in his time to keep them from starvation. It hap 
pens, however, that the present writer has had a great deal 
to do with victims ; and he therefore conceives himself qua 
lified to afford his neighbours a little information upon the 
subject. It is a subject not without its moral. 

A victim may become so from many causes. Some men 
are wrong placed in the world by their friends, and ruin 
themselves. Some are ill married, and lose heart. Others 
have tastes unsuited to the dull course of a man of busi 
ness, as for music, social pleasures, the company of men 
out of their own order, and so forth. Other men have na 
tural imperfections of character, and sink down, from pure 
inability to compete with rivals of more athletic consti 
tution,, But the grand cause of declension in life is in 
ability to accommodate circumstances and conduct. 

Suppose a man to have broken credit with the world, 
and made that treaty of perpetual hostility with it, which, 
quasi lucus a non lucendo, is called a cessio bonorum what 
is he to do next ? One thing is dead clear : he no more 
appears on Prince's Street or the bridges. They are to 
him as a native and once familiar land, from which he is 
exiled for ever. His migrations from one side of the 
town to the other are now accomplished by by-channels, 



72 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

which, however well known to our ancestors, are in the 
present day dreamt of by nobody, except, perhaps, the 
author of the Traditions of Edinburgh. I once came full 
upon a victim in Croftangry, a wretched alley near the 
Palace of Holyrood House ; he looked the very Genius of 
the place ! But the ways of victims are in general very 
occult. Sometimes I have altogether lost sight of one for 
several years, and given him up for dead. But at length 
he would re-appear amidst the crowd at a midnight fire, as 
salmon come from the deepest pools towards the lighted 
sheaf of the fisherman, or as some old revolutionary names 
that had disappeared from French history for a quarter of 
a century, came again above board on the occasion of the 
late revolution at Paris. At one particular conflagration, 
which happened some years ago, I observed several vic 
tims, who had long vanished from the open daylight streets, 
come out to glare with their bleared eyes upon the awful 
scene perhaps unroosted from their dens by the progress 
of the " devouring element." But what is a victim like? 
The progress of a victim's gradual deterioration depends 
very much upon the question, whether he has, according 
to the old joke, failed with a waistcoat or a full suit. Suppose 
the latter contingency : he keeps up a decent appearance 
for some months after the fatal event, perhaps even making 
several attempts to keep up a few of his old acquaintance. 
It won't do, however ; the clothes get worn threadbare 
slit torn patched darned ; let ink, thread, and judi 
cious arrangement of person, do their best. The hat, 
the shoes, and the gloves, fail first ; he then begins to wear 
a suspicious deal of whitey-brown linen in the way of cra 
vat. Collars fail. Frills retire. The vest is buttoned to 
the uppermost button, or even, perhaps, with a supple 
mentary pin (a pin is the most squalid object in nature or 
art) at top. Still at this period he tries to carry a jaunty, 
genteel air ; he has not yet all forgot himself to rags. But, 
see, the buttons begin to show something like new moons at 
one side ; these moons become full; they change ; and then 



VICTIMS. 73 

the button is only a little wisp of thread and rags, deprived 
of all power of retention over the button-hole. His watch 
lias long been gone to supply the current wants of the day. 
The vest by and bye retires from business, and the coat is 
buttoned up to the chin. About this period, he perhaps 
appears in a pair of nankeen trousers, which, notwithstand 
ing the coldness of the weather, he tries to sport in an easy, 
genteel fashion, as if it were his taste. If you meet him at 
this time, and inquire how he is getting on in the world, 
he speaks very confidently of some excellent situation he 
has a prospect of, which will make him better than ever ; 
it is perhaps to superintend a large new blacking manufac 
tory which is to be set up at Portobello, and for which two 
acres of stone bottles, ten feet deep, have already been 
collected from all the lumber-cellars in the country ; quite 
a nice easy business ; nothing to do but collect the orders 
and see them executed ; good salary, free house, coal, can 
dle, and blacking ; save a pound a-year on the article of 
blacking alone. Or it is some other concern equally absurd, 
but which the disordered mind of the poor unfortunate is 
evidently rioting over with as much enjoyment as if it were 
to make him once more what he had been in his better 
days. At length but not perhaps till two or three years 
have elapsed he becomes that lamentable picture of 
wretchedness which is his ultimate destiny ; a mere pile 
of clothes without pile a deplorable a victim. 

As a picture of an individual victim, take the following : 
My earliest recollections of Mr Kier refer to his keeping a 
seed-shop in the New Town of Edinburgh. He was a 
remarkably smart active man, and could tie up little parcels 
of seeds with an almost magical degree of dispatch. When 
engaged in that duty, your eye lost sight of his fingers 
altogether, as you cease to individualise the spokes of a 
wheel when it is turned with great rapidity. He was the 
inventor of a curious tall engine, with a peculiar pair of 
scissors at top, for cutting fruit off trees. This he sent 
through Prince's Street every day with one of his boys, who 



74 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

was instructed every now and then to draw the string, so 
as to make the scissors close as sharply as possible. The 
boy would watch his men broad-skirted men with top- 
boots and, gliding in before them, would make the thing 
play clip. " Boy, boy," the country gentleman would cry, 
" what's that?" The boy would explain ; the gentleman 
would be delighted with the idea of cutting down any parti 
cular apple he chose out of a thickly laden and unapproach 
able tree ; and, after that, nothing more was required than 
to give him the card of the shop. Mr Kier, however, was 
not a man of correct or temperate conduct. He used to in 
dulge eyen in forenoon potations. Opposite to his shop 
there was a tavern, to which he was in the habit of sending 
a boy every day for a tumbler of spirits and water, which 
the wretch was carefully enjoined to carry under his apron. 
One day the boy forgot the precaution, and carried the 
infamous crystal quite exposed in his hand across the open 
and crowded street. Mr Kier was surveying his progress 
both in going and returning ; and when he observed him 
coming towards the shop, with so damnatory a proof of his 
malpractices holden forth to the gaze of the world, he 
leaped and danced within his shop window like a supple 
jack in a glass case. The poor boy came in quite innocently, 
little woting of the crime he had committed, or the reception 
he was to meet with, when, just as he had deposited the 
glass upon the counter, a blow from the hand of his master 
stretched him insensibly in a remote corner of the shop, 
among a parcel of seed-bags. As no qualities will succeed 
in business unless perfectly good conduct be among the 
number, and, above all things, an absence from tippling, 
Kier soon became a victim. After he first took to the 
bent, to use Rob Roy's phrase, I lost sight of him for two 
or three years. At length I one day met him on a road 
a little way out of town. He wore a coat buttoned to the 
chin, and which, being also very long in the breast, accord 
ing to a fashion which obtained about the year 1813, seemed 
to enclose his whole trunk from neck to groin. With the 



VICTIMS. 75 

usual cataract of cravat, he wore a hat the most woe-be - 
gone, the most dejected, the most melancholy I had ever 
seen. His face was inflamed and agitated, and as he 
walked, he swung out his arms with a strange emphatic ex 
pression, as if he were saying, " I am an ill-used man, but 
I'll tell it to the world." Misery had evidently given him 
a slight craze, as it almost always does when it overtakes 
a man accustomed in early life to better things. Some 
time afterwards I saw him a little revivified through the 
influence of a new second-hand coat, and he seemed, from 
a small leathern parcel which he bore under his arm, to be 
engaged in some small agency. But this was a mere flash 
before utter expiration. He relapsed to the Cowgate to 

rags to wretchedness to madness immediately after. 

When I next saw him, it was in that street, the time mid 
night. He lay in the bottom of a stair, more like a heap 
of mud than a man. A maniac curse, uttered as I stum 
bled over him, was the means of my recognising it to be 
Kier. 

The system of life pursued by victims in general, is worthy 
of being inquired into. Victims hang much about taverns 
in the outskirts of the town. Perhaps a decent man from 
Pennycuik, with the honest rustic name of Walter Brown, 
or James Go wans, migrates to the Candlemaker Row, or 
the Grassmarket, and sets up a small public house. You 
may know the man by his corduroy spatterdashes, and the 
latchets of his shoes drawn through them by two pye-holes. 
He is an honest man, believing every body to be as ho 
nest as himself. Perhaps he has some antiquated and pre 
scribed right to the stance of a hay-stack at Pennycuik, 
and is not without his wishes to try his fortune in the Par 
liament House. Well, the victims soon scent out his 
house by the glare of his new sign the novitas regni and 
upon him they fall tooth and nail. Partly through simpli 
city, partly by having his feelings excited regarding the 
stance of the hay-stack, he gives these gentlemen some 
credit. For a while you may observe a flocking of victims 



76 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

toward his doorway, like the gathering of clean and un 
clean things to Noah's ark. But it is not altogether a case 
of deception. Victims, somehow or other, occasionally 
have money. True, it is seldom in greater sums than six 
pence. But then, consider the importance of sixpence to 
a flock of victims. Such a sum, judiciously managed, may 
get the whole set meat and drink for a day. At length, 
when Walter begins to find his barrels run dry, with little 
return of money wherewithal to replenish them, and when 
the joint influence of occasional apparitions of sixpence, 
and the stance of the hay-stack at Pennycuik, has no longer 
any effect upon him, why, what is to be done but fly to 
some other individual, equally able and willing to bleed ? 

One thing is always very remarkable in victims, namely, 
their extraordinary frankness and politeness. A victim 
might have been an absolute bear in his better days ; but 
hunger, it is said, will tame a lion, and it seems to have 
the same effect in subduing the asperities of a victim. 
Meet a victim where you will that is, before he has be 
come altogether deplorable and you are amazed at the 
bland, confidential air which he has assumed ; so different, 
perhaps, from what he sported in better days. His man 
ner, in fact, is most insinuating into your pocket ; and if 
you do not get alarmed at the symptoms, and break off in 
time, you are brought down for half a crown as sure as you 
live. Victims keep up a kind of constant civil war with 
shops. They mark those which have been recently opened, 
and where they see only young men behind the counter. 
They try to establish a kind of credit of face, by now and 
then dropping in and asking, in a genteel manner, for a 
sight of a Directory, or for a bit of twine, or for " the least 
slip of paper," occasionally even spending a halfpenny or 
a penny in a candid, honourable way, with all the air of a 
person wishing to befriend the shop. In the course of 
these " transactions," they endeavour to excite a little con 
versation, beginning with the weather, gradually expanding 
to a remark upon the state of business ; and, perhaps, end- 



VICTIMS. 77 

ing with a sympathising inquiry as to the prospects which 
the worthy shopkeeper himself may have of succeeding in 
his present situation. At length, having laid down what 
painters call a priming, they come in some day, in a hurried 
fiddle-faddle kind of way, and hastily and confidentially ask 
across the counter, " Mr [victims are always particular 
in saying Master'], have you got such a thing as fourpence 
in ha'pence? I just want to pay a porter, and happen to 
have no change." The specification of " fourpence in ha' 
pence," though in reality nonsense, carries the day ; it gives 
a plausibility and credit-worthiness to the demand that 
could not otherwise be obtained. The unfortunate shop- 
keeper, carried away by the contagious bustle of the victim, 
plunges his hand, quick as thought, into the till, and before 
he knows where he is, he is minus a groat, and the victim 
has vanished from before him and the whole transaction , 
reflected upon three minutes afterwards, seems as if it had 
been a dream. 

The existence of a victim is the most precarious thing, 
perhaps, in the world. He is a man with no continuing 
dinner-place. He dines, as the poor old Earl of Findlater 
used to say, at the sign of the Mouth. It is a very strange 
thing, and what no one could suppose a priori, that the 
necessitous are greatly indebted to the necessitous. People 
of this sort form a kind of community by themselves, and 
are more kind to each other mutually than is any other par 
ticular branch of the public to them as a class. Thus, the 
little that any one has, is apt to be shared by a great many 
companions, and all have a mouthful. The necessitous 
are also very much the dupes of the necessitous : they are 
all, as it were, creatures of prey, the stronger constantly 
eating up the weaker. Thus, a victim in the last stage preys 
upon men who are entering the set ; and all prey more or 
less upon poor tradesmen, such as the above Walter Brown 
or James Gowans, who are only liable to such a spoliation 
because they are poor, and anxious for business. We have 
known a victim, for instance, who had long passed the con- 



78 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

dition of being jail-worthy, live in a great measure upon a 
man who had just begun a career of victimization by being 
thrown into jail. This creature was content to be a kind 
of voluntary prisoner for the sake of sharing the victuals 
and bed of his patron. It would astonish any man, accus 
tomed, day after day, to go home to a spread table at a re 
gular hour, to know the strange shifts which victims have to 
make in order to satisfy hunger how much is done by raising 
small hard-wrung subsidies from former acquaintance how 
much by duping how much by what the Scotch people 
very expressively call skeching how much by subdivision 
of mites among the wretches themselves. Your victim is 
often witty, can sing one good comic song, has a turn for 
mimicry, or at least an amusing smack of worldly know 
ledge ; and he is sometimes so lucky as to fall in with 
patrons little above himself in fortune, but still having 
something to give, who afford him their protection on ac 
count of such qualifications. 

By way of illustrating these points, take the following 
instances of what may be called the fag-victim. 

Nisbet of , in Lanarkshire, originally a landed gen 
tleman and an advocate at the Scottish bar, was a blood 
of the first water in the dissolute decade 1780-90, when, 
if we are to believe Provost Creech, it was a gentleman's 
highest ambition, in his street dress and manner of walk 
ing, to give an exact personation of the character of Filch 
in the Beggars' Opera. Nisbet at that period dressed a 
dood deal above Filch, however he might resemble him in 
gait. He had a coat edged all round with gold lace, wore 
a gold watch on each side (an extravagant fashion then 
prevalent), and with his cane, bag-wig, and gold-buckled 
shoes, was really a fine figure of the pre -revolutionary era. 
His house was in the Canongate a good flat in Chessels's 
Court garrisoned only by a female servant called Nanny. 
Nisbet at length squandered away the whole of his estate, 
and became a victim. All the world fell away from him ; 
but Nanny still remained. From the entailed family flat 



VICTIMS. 79 

in Chessels's Court, he had to remove to a den somewhere 
about the Netherbow : Nanny went with him. Then 
came the period of wretchedness : Nanny, however, still 
stuck fast. The unfortunate gentleman could not himself 
appear in his woe-begone attire upon those streets where 
he had formerly shone a resplendent sun ; neither could 
he bring his well-born face to solicit his former friends for 
sudsidies. Nanny did all that was necessary. Foul day 
and fair day, she was to be seen gliding about the streets, 
either petitioning tradesmen for goods to her master on 
credit, or collecting food and money from the houses of his 
acquaintance. If a liquid alms was offered, she had a 
white tankard, streaked with smoky-looking cracks, for its 
reception ; if the proffered article was a mass of flesh, she 
had a plate or a towel. There never was such a forager. 
Nisbet himself used to call her " true and trusty," by way 
of a compliment to her collective powers ; and he finally 
found so much reason to appreciate her disinterested attach 
ment, that, on reaching the usual fatal period of fifty, he 
made her his wife ! What was the catastrophe of their 
^tory, I never heard. 

The second, and only other instance of the fag-victim 
which can be given here, is of a still more touching charac 
ter than the above, and seems to make it necessary for the 
writer of this trifling essay to protest, beforehand, against 
being thought a scoffer at the misery of his fellow creatures. 
He begs it to be understood, that, however light be the 
language in which he speaks, he hopes that he can look 
with no other than respectful feelings upon human nature, 
in a suffering, and, more especially, a self-denying form. 

Some years ago, there flourished, in one of the principal 
thoroughfares of Edinburgh, a fashionable perfumer, the in 
heritor of an old business, and a man of respectable connec 
tions, who, falling into dissolute habits, became of course 
very much embarrassed, and, finally, " unfortunate." In his 
shop, 

" From youth to age a reverend 'prentice grew ;" 



80 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

a man, at the time of his master's failure, advanced to nearly 
middle life, but who, having never been any where else 
since he was ten or twelve years of age, than behind Finlay's 
counter Sundays and meal-hours alone excepted was 
still looked upon by his master as " the boy of the shop," and 
so styled accordingly. This worthy creature had, in the 
course of time, become as a mere piece of furniture in the 
shop ; his soul had fraternized (to use a modern French 
phrase) with his situation. The drawers and shottles, the 
combs, brushes, and bottles, had entered into and become 
part of his own existence ; he took them all under the wide- 
spreading boughs of his affections ; they were to him, as the 
infant to the mother, part of himself. He was on the best 
terms with every thing about the shop ; the handles of all 
things were fitted to his hand ; every thing came to him, 
to use a proverbial expression of Scotland, like the bowl 
of a pint-stoup. In fact, like a piece of wood placed in a 
petrifying spring, this man might be said to have been trans 
figured out of his original flesh and blood altogether, and 
changed into a creature participating in the existence and 
qualities of certain essences, perfumes, wigs, pomades, 
drawers, wig-blocks, glass cases, and counters forming the 
materiel of Mr Finlay's establishment. Such a being was, 
as may be supposed, a useful servant. He knew all the 
customers ; he knew his master's whole form of practice, 
all his habits, and every peculiarity of his temper. And 
then the fidelity of the creature ; but that was chiefly shown 
in the latter evil days of the shop, and during the victim- 
hood of his master. As misfortune came on, the friendship 
of master and man became more intensely familiar and in 
timate than it had ever been before. As the proudest man, 
met by a lion in the desert, makes no scruple to coalesce 
with his servant in resisting it, so was Finlay induced, by 
the devouring monster Poverty, to descend to the level, 
and make a companion, of his faithful * ' boy." They would 
at last go to the same tavern together, take the same Sun 
day walks were, in reality, boon companions. In all Fin- 



VICTIMS. 81 

lay's distresses, the " boy" partook; if any thing " occurred 
about a bill," as Crabbe says, it was the " boy" who had 
the chief dolour of its accommodation ; he would scour the 
North and South Bridges, with his hat off, borrowing small 
silver a I'improviste, as if to make up change to a customer, 
till he had the necessary sum amassed. The "boy" at 
length became very much demoralised : he grew vicious 
towards the world, to be the more splendidly virtuous to 
his master : one grand redeeming quality, after the manner 
of Moses' serpent, had eaten up all the rest. It were need 
less to pursue the history of the shop through all its stages 
of declension. Through them all the " boy" survived, 
unshaken in his attachment. The shop might fade, grow 
dim, and die, but the " boy" never. The goods might 
be diminished, the Duke of Wellington might be sold for 
whisky, and his lady companions pawn their wigs for 
mutton pies; but the "boy" was a fixture. There was 
no pledging away his devoted, inextinguishable friendship. 
The master at last went to the Canongate jail I say went 
to, in order to inform the sentimental part of mankind that 
imprisonment is seldom done in the active voice, people 
generally incarcerating themselves with the most philoso 
phical deliberation, and not the least air of compulsion in 
the matter. The shop was still kept open, and the " boy" 
attended it. But every evening did he repair to the dreary 
mansion, to solace his master with the news of the day, 
see after his comforts, and yield up the prey which, jackall- 
like, he had collected during the preceding four-and-twenty 
hours. This prey, be it remarked, was not raised from the 
sale of any thing in the shop. Every saleable article had 
by this time been sold. The only furniture was now a pair 
of scissors and a comb, together with the announcement, 
" Hair-cutting rooms," in the window. By means of these 
three things, however, the " boy" contrived generally to 
fleece the public of a few sixpences in the day ; and all these 
sixpences, with the exception of a small commission for his 
own meagre subsistence, went to his master at the Canon- 
H 



82 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

gate jail. Often, in the hour between eight and nine in the 
evening, have they sat in that small dingy back-room be 
hind the large hall, enjoying a bottle of strong ale, drunk 
out of stoneware tumblers talking over all their embar 
rassments, and speculating how to get clear of them. Other 
prisoners had their wives or their brothers to see after 
them ; but we question if any one had r even in these re 
lations of kindred, a friend so attached as the " boy." At 
length, after a certain period, this unfortunate tradesman 
was one evening permitted to walk away, arm in arm, with 
his faithful "young man," and the world was all before 
them where to choose. 

For a considerable period all trace of the attached pair is 
lost. No doubt their course was through many scenes of 
poignant misery ; for at the only part of their career upon 
which I have happened to obtain any light, the " boy " was 
wandering through the streets of Carlisle, in the dress and 
appearance of a very old beggar, and singing the songs 
wherewith he had formerly delighted the citizens of Edin 
burgh in Mrs Hanson's or Johnnie Dowie's, for the subsist 
ence of his master, who, as ascertained by my informant, 
was deposited in a state of sickness and wretchedness trans 
cending all description, in a low lodging-house in a back 
street. Such is the fag- victim, following his master 

" To the last gasp, with truth and loyalty ;" 

and such, I may add, are the virtues which sometimes 
adorn the most vicious and degraded walks of life, where, 
to the eyes of ordinary observers, there appears no redeem 
ing feature whatsoever. 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 

FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 

" ACQUAINTANCES." 

ONE of the most important concerns of young people is, 
the management of themselves in respect of what are called 
** acquaintances." To have many friends is desirable, in 
a world where men are generally thrown so much upon 
their own resources. But there is a distinction between 
the friendship of a certain number of respectable persons, 
who are only ready to exert themselves for us when called 
upon, and the acquaintance of a circle of contemporaries, 
who are perpetually forcing themselves upon our company 
for the mere purpose of mutual amusement. Taking the 
words in their usual signification, a young man ought to 
wish for many friends, but few acquaintances. There is 
something in the countenance of a companion that cheers 
and supports the frailty of human nature. One can speak 
and act more boldly with a friend by his side, than when 
alone. But it is the good fortune of men of strong cha 
racter, and it ought to be the object of every one, to act 
well and boldly by himself. One thing young people 
may be assured of, almost all the great services which 
enlightened men have done for their race, were performed 
alone. There was but one man, not two, at the discovery 
of the Compass, of the Copernican System, of the Loga 
rithms, and of the principle of Vaccination. To descend 
to lesser things, ask any man who has risen in worldly for 
tune, from small beginnings to great wealth and honour, 
how he contrived to do so, and you will find that he carved 
it all out for himself with his own hand. He will in all 
probability inform you that he has reached the honourable 
station in society which he now maintains, chiefly by nar 
rowing the circle of his " private acquaintances," and ex 
tending that of his " public relations," most likely adding, 
that had he on all occasions " consulted" the persons with 



84 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

whom he happened to be acquainted, as to his designs, he 
would, by every calculation, have been still in the same 
obscure insignificant situation he once was. The truth is, 
it is only when alone that we have the ability to concen 
trate our minds upon any object ; and it is only when things 
are done with the full force of one mind qualified for the 
purpose, that they are done well. 

It is the misfortune of young people, before they become 
fully engaged in the relations of life and business, that they 
look too much to " acquaintances" for encouragement, and 
make the amusement which ** acquaintances" can furnish 
too indispensable. The tender mind of youth is reluctant, 
or unable, to stand alone ; it needs to be one of a class. 
Hence, the hours which ought to be spent in the acquisi 
tion of that general knowledge which is so useful in after 
life, and which can only be acquired in the vacant days of 
youth, are thrown away in the most inglorious pursuits ; for 
"acquaintances" are seldom the companions of study, or 
the auxiliaries of business, but most generally the associates 
of a debauch, the fellow -flutter ers upon the Mall, the com- 
panion-hounds in the chase of empty pleasure. It is amaz 
ing how much a youth can endure of the company of his 
principal " acquaintance." Virgil's expression, " tecum con- 
sumerer cevo," is realised in his case ; for he veritably ap 
pears as if he could spend his whole life in the society of the 
treasured individual. At the approach of that person, every 
other matter is cast aside ; the most important business 
seems nothing in contrast with the interchange of a smile 
or a jest with this duplicate of himself. The injunctions 
of the most valued relations even of father and mother 
are scattered to the winds, if they are at variance with the 
counsels or conduct of this precious person, whom, after 
all, he perhaps met only last week at a club. The power 
of an " acquaintance" of this kind, for good or evil, over 
the mind of his friend, is so very great, that it may well 
give some concern to those who are really interested in the 
prospects of youth. But every effort to redeem a victim 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 85 

from the fascination, will be in vain, unless his natural or 
habitual goodness be shocked by the further exposure of 
the "acquaintance's" character. The only safeguard, 
therefore, against this mighty evil, is, previously to accus 
tom youth to depend much upon themselves, and to en 
deavour to infuse into them a sufficient degree of moral 
excellence, to be a protection to them against the worst 
vices which "acquaintances" may attempt to impart to 
them. 

There is a possibility, however, that the "acquaintance" 
may be no worse than his fellow, and yet the two will do 
that together which they could not do singly. Virtue is, 
upon the whole, a thing of solitude : vice is a thing of the 
crowd. The individual will not dare to be wicked, for the 
responsibility which he knows must be concentrated upon 
himself; while the company, feeling that a divided re 
sponsibility is hardly any responsibility at all, is under no 
such constraint. There is much edification to the heart 
of the thoughtless and wicked in the participation of com 
panions ; and even in large associations of honourable men 
for honourable purposes, there is often wanting that fine 
tone of feeling which governs the conduct of perhaps each 
individual in the fraternity. Thus, an excessive indulgence 
in the company of*' acquaintances" is to be avoided, even 
where these "acquaintances" are not inferior in moral 
worth to ourselves. There is an easy kind of morality much 
in vogue among a great body of people, that " what others 
do we may do," as if higher standards had not been handed 
down by God himself from heaven, or constructed in the 
course of time by the wise and pure among men. This 
morality comes strongly into play among youth in their 
intercourse with contemporaries ; and as it is always on 
rather a declining than an advancing scale, it soon leads 
them a great way down the paths of vice. 

It will be found, in general, that a considerable degree 
of abstinence from this indulgence is required, even to 
secure the most ordinary degree of success in life. But 



86 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, 

if great things be aimed at, if we wish to surpass our fel 
lows by many degrees, and to render ourselves honourably 
conspicuous among men, we must abjure "acquaintances" 
almost entirely. We must, for that purpose, withdraw 
ourselves from all temptation to idle and futile amusement 
we must, in the words of a great poet, " shun delights, 
and live laborious days." 



SUBJECTS OF CONVERSATION. 

SUBJECTS of conversation are sometimes exceedingly dif 
ficult to be had. I have known many a company of well- 
dressed men and women feel themselves most awkwardly 
situated for want of something to talk about. The weather, 
which is said to be a never-failing subject, cannot hold out 
above a few minutes at a time. It will stand a round or 
two rounds, but not more. It is then knocked up for the 
evening, and cannot with decency be again brought forward. 
Being thus disposed of, the subject of " news" is intro 
duced ; but, as a matter of course, there being no " news 
stirring," "not a word," "nothing in the papers," that 
subject is soon also dispatched. If there happen to be any 
very remarkable occurrence worth talking of, what a bless 
ing it is on such occasions ! It is food for the company a 
whole night, and may be again and again brought above 
board for their amusement. But it much more frequently 
happens that there is no exciting event to talk about, and 
then the condition of the company is truly miserable. 
There being ladies present, or there being two factions in 
the room, politics are proscribed. Every attempt at get 
ting up a topic failing, the company look into the fire, or 
in each other's faces, or begin to examine with much in 
terest the pattern of the carpet ; and the silence which en 
sues is truly terrific. A slight whisper is the only sound 



SUBJECTS OF CONVERSATION. 

in the apartment, and is caught at or watched by the com 
pany, for it may chance to be the commencement of a 
conversation in which they may join, without exciting 
particular attention. But it, too, dies away. It was only 
a passing under-current of remark between the two married 
ladies in the blue and white turbans, on the dearth of coals, 
the difficulty of getting good servants, or the utility of 
keeping children muffled in flannel nightgowns from Octo 
ber till March, At length some good soul makes an effort 
to brush away his diffidence. He projects a remark across 
the room towards the little man with the smirking counte 
nance, about Mr This or Miss That, or Signer Such-a-thing, 
who are at present enlivening the town with their exhibi 
tions. The remark is in itself a very ordinary remark, but 
it has its use : it quickens the intellects of those who hear 
it, and the tongues of a number of individuals are set a-go 
ing upon the subject of theatrical amusements, singing in 
the Assembly Rooms, Pasta, Paganini, and private par 
ties, so that the original remark is lost sight of, and the 
company go on pretty well with what it has produced for 
perhaps half an hour. All these topics being exhausted, 
another horrible silence ensues. The company again look 
into the fire, or in one another's faces, and once more ex 
amine the carpet. What u to be said next? All think 
upon saying something, yet nobody speaks. The national 
mauvaise honte is now displayed to the height of its perfec 
tion. The agony of the company, however, approaches its 
crisis. The awful stillness is broken, and in a most natural 
and unexpected manner. The young man in the starched 
cravat sitting in a corner of the room, near the end of the 
piano, who has been thinking what he should say or do for 
the last half hour, takes heart of grace ; he rises and snuffs 
the candles, going through the self-imposed duty in as neat 
and elegant a style as he can possibly affect. The snuffing 
of the candles is an operation which every member of the 
company has seen performed ten thousand times ; but it af 
fords interest for even the ten thousandth and first time. It 



88 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

may not intrinsically be worth heeding, yet, in a case of this 
nature, it is of very great importance. It suggests a new 
theme, and that is exactly what was wanted, for one sub 
ject invariably leads to the discussion of half a dozen others. 
The operation of snuffing the candles, therefore, induces 
some one to remark, how beautiful gas-light is. Then this 
brings on a disquisition on the danger of introducing it into 
private houses ; its cost in comparison with oil is next 
touched upon ; then follows an observation about the last 
illumination ; which leads to reminiscences of similar dis 
plays on the occasions of the great naval victories the 
victories lead to Nelson Nelson to his biographer, Southey 
Southey to poetry poetry to Byron and Byron to 
Greece. This whirl of conversation, however, also runs 
out ; an accident jars it, and it is all over. Suddenly the 
speakers pause, as if they had received a galvanic shock ; 
one small voice is alone left prominent above the silence ; 
but finding itself unsupported, it is immediately lowered to 
a whisper, and the whisper subsides to a dead silence. 

I have often pitied the host or hostess on occasions of 
this nature, but I could not help blaming them for not 
providing against such dismal pauses in the conversation 
of their parties. To guard against these occurrences, I 
would recommend them to bring forward what I have 
remarked to be never-failing sources of conversational 
entertainment, namely, a tolerably good-looking cat, a 
lapdog, or a child. The last is the best. It ought to be 
about two years of age, and be able to walk. If adroitly 
played off, or permitted to play, it will amuse the party for 
an hour at least. It must be placed on the hearth-rug, so 
as to attract all eyes ; and while in the room, no other sub 
ject will be thought of. Any endeavour to draw off atten 
tion, by the relation of some entertaining anecdote, will be 
deemed sedition against the majesty of the household. If 
a cat, a dog, or an interesting child, cannot be conveniently 
had, I would advise the invitation of some one who has a 
loud voice, and the happy effrontery of speaking incessantly, 



SECURE ONES. 89 

however ridiculously, on all subjects, a person who can 
speak nonsense to any extent, and has the reputation of 
being a most agreeable companion. This man is of vast 
use in introducing subjects ; for he has no diffidence or 
modesty, and has a knack of turning every observation to 
account. His voice also serves as a cover to much by 
conversation ; there being hundreds who would speak flu 
ently enough, provided a bagpipe were kept playing beside 
them, or who could have their voices drowned by some 
other species of noise. The loud and voluble talker is 
therefore an excellent shelter for those of weaker nerves, 
and will be found a useful ingredient in all mixed com 
panies. 

The difficulty of starting subjects of conversation, as 
well as the difficulty of sustaining them, is often as observ 
able when two acquaintances meet on the street, as when 
a roomful of company is collected. The unhappy pair ex 
haust all that they can remember they ought to say to each 
other in the space of a minute and a half, and another mi 
nute may be consumed in going through the process of 
taking a pinch of snuff; the next half minute is spent in 
mutual agony. Neither knows how to separate. As the 
only chance of release, one of the parties at last brings in 
a joke, or what is meant to be such, to his aid. The 
other, of course, feels bound to laugh, and both seizing 
the opportunity, escape in different directions under cover 
of the witticism. 



SECURE ONES. 

" I MAK SICKER." Motto of the Family of Kirkpatrick. 

" OH, he's a sicker ane !" is a phrase used in Scotlan4 in 
reference to that class of people who make excessively sure 
about every thing, and are in no manner of means to be 
imposed upon. I style such persons Secure Ones, in order 



90 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

to be intelligible to southern as well as northern readers. 
Every body must know a certain class of secure ones by 
the timid cautiousness and exactness of their behaviour ; 
by the trim, unostentatious propriety of their external as 
pect. There is a lambs'-woollery comfort and a broad 
cloth completeness about this sort of secure one, that 
nobody can mistake ; he even seems to have made the 
number of buttons in his vest, and the height to which that 
garment is buttoned up, a matter of accurate calculation. 
He could not go abroad under less than a certain press 
of flannel and great-coat for the world ; and you might al 
most as soon expect to meet him without his left arm as 
minus the silk umbrella under it. (He carries the latter 
part of himself, or fifth limb, at an angle of about sixty de 
grees to the horizon, the handle down behind, and the 
point forked up in front.) When he observes any part of 
the pavement railed off, in order to save the passengers all 
danger from an occasional pelleting of stones and bits of 
plaster which the slaters or chimney-doctors are producing 
from above, he deploys into the street a good way before 
Coming up to the actual rail or rope, and, in passing, takes 
care to sweep several good yards beyond the utmost range 
of shot. " Don't like these things coming peppering down 
that way ; might almost dislocate one's shoulder if they 
were to fall upon it ; perhaps we had better go over to the 
other side of the street altogether. No need, you know, 
for running into unnecessary danger." When a secure 
one ascends a stair, he goes step after step monotonously 
on, performing every move of his feet with a sound, con 
scientious deliberation, and seems determined upon doing 
full justice to every landing-place. He holds firmly, how 
ever unnecessarily, by the baluster, since the baluster is 
there, and he has an obvious satisfaction in the slight pant 
which he thinks himself entitled to get up on the occasion. 
The secure one always shuts a door carefully behind him. 
He takes off his hat softly, with a regard at once to the 
smooth economy of his hair, and the pile of his chapeau. 



SECURE ONES. 91 

He has a maxim that the hat should be first raised and 
loosened from behind, where it slides up along the glossy 
hair, not from the front, where it encounters a compara 
tive obstruction from the fleshy brow. He lays down his 
gloves neatly on the top of each other, and hangs up his 
hat with an air of carefulness truly exemplary. The se 
cure one is a bit of an epicure. When out in the fore 
noon, he would not for any consideration take lunch or 
wine. " Madam, would you have me spoil my appetite for 
dinner ?" This appetite he nurses and cherishes in the 
course of his saunterings between two and five, as care 
fully as a miser doting over his heap. He holds a tele 
graphic communion with his inner man that passeth show ; 
he coquets and dallies with his stomach ; every indescrib 
able symptom is taken into account, and forms the subject 
of unexpressed congratulation. " Dear tender flowers of 
appetite, it would be sacrilege, or worse, to nip ye in the 
bud, by powdering over you the baneful dew of a glass of 
Bucellas, or the still more odious blight of a basin of mul 
ligatawny. No, I will coax you, and protect you, and tra 
vel for you, in faithful love and kindness, even until ye shall 
be fully fattened up for slaughter at five o'clock." When 
the secure one sits down to table, he painsfully and not 
unostentatiously (to himself) relieves the one lowest but 
ton of his vest from the thrall of button-hole, and with 
equally deliberate care arranges a napkin over the front of 
his person. Dinner is a sacred ceremony, and requires its 
canonicals. Being fully acquainted with the whole plani 
sphere of the table, he takes an exactly proportioned quan 
tity of each article, so as ultimately to have enjoyed each 
in its exact proportion of merit, and to have precisely 
enough out of the whole. A secure one is frequently an 
old respectable unmarried gentleman, residing with a sin 
gle servant Jenny in a "self-contained" house about 
Stockbridge or Newington. Knowing the distance at 
which he lives from the mercantile parts of the town, he 
takes care never to want what he calls a pound of change, 



92 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

as well as a small stock of copper at least the value of a 
shilling observing also that the change is not unmixed 
with sixpences, so that when any shopkeeper's boy calls 
for payment of an account, or to take back the purchase- 
money of any article he has bought that day in town, he 
may not have to trouble [i. e. trust] the messenger with 
the duty of obtaining change for a bank note, which would 
tend to occasion a more than necessary answering of the 
bells at the door, besides keeping him in an agony of fiddle- 
faddle till the little affair was settled. Jenny, who has been 
so long in his service as to have become almost as secure 
as himself, never opens the door o' nights without putting 
on the chain ; and she has a standing order against all par 
leying with beggars, or poor women who sell tapes and 
such things out of baskets. The secure one regards few 
creatures in this world with a more jealous or malignant 
eye than these personages. " Why, Sir, they want no 
thing but to make an opportunity of stripping the lobby or 
the kitchen !" And such a story he can tell of a missing 
hat-brush ! " A woman seen that morning going about 
sold a pair of garters to the maid-servant three doors off at 
ten front door had been left open for a minute, not more, 
while Jenny ran after me with something I had forgot 
and in that time it could have been at no other the deed 
was done. A hat-brush I had just got with my last hat 
at Grieve and Scott's ; had a thing that screwed in at the 
one end, so that it was a stretcher also ; cost four and six 
pence, even taking the hat along with it." And the se 
cure one, without any premeditated hard-heartedness, 
thinks nothing of making such an incident apologize to 
himself for an habitual shutting of his door and his heart 
against the poor for the next twelvemonth. There is never 
any imperfection in the externe of the secure one. He 
bears about him a certain integrality of look that fills and 
satisfies the eye. From his good well-brushed waterproof 
beaver, all along down by his roomy blue coat, drab well- 
fledged, amply-trousered limbs, and so down to his double 



SECURE ONES. 93 

shoes, not omitting such points as his voluminous white 
neckcloth without collar, his large Cairngorm brooch, 
which looks as if a dish of jelly had been inverted into his 
bosom, and his heavy, pursy bunch of seals dangling, clearly 
defined and well relieved, from the precipice of belly every 
thing betokens the secure one. Clothes are not so much 
clothes with him as they are a kind of defensive armour ! 
The truth is, the secure one lives in a state of constant 
warfare with the skiey influences. The chief campaign is 
in winter. Instead of entering the field, like Captain 
Bobadil, about the tenth of March, he opens the trenches 
towards the twenty-fourth of October. He then invests 
himself with a cuirass of wool almost thick enough to ob 
struct the passage of a cannon-ball. For months after, he 
remains in arms, prepared to stand out against the most 
violent attacks of the enemy, and, in reality, there is hardly 
any advantage to be got of the secure one by fair open 
storms or frosts. He bears a charmed life against all such 
candid modes of warfare. He cannot be overthrown in a 
pitched battle. It is only ambuscade draughts through 
open windows, and other kinds of bush-fighting, that ever 
are of any effect against him. Like Hector in the armour 
of Patroclus, he is invulnerable over almost all his whole 
person ; but an arrowy rheumatism, like the spear of 
Achilles, will sometimes reach him through a very small 
chink. Like the mighty Achilles himself, he is literally 
proof, perhaps, against every thing but what assails him 
through the very lowest part of his person he can stand 
every thing but wet feet. There is an instance on record 
of his having once been laid by the heels for three months, 
in consequence of sitting one night in the pit of the Theatre 
with a slightly damp umbrella between his knees. He was 
just about to get entirely better of this disorder, when all 
at once he was thrown back for six weeks more, by reason, 
as he himself related, of his having changed the wear (in 
his sick-chamber) of a silk watch-riband for, a chain ! 
16 All from the imprudence of that rash girl Jenny, who. 



94 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

thought the riband a little shabby, and put on the chain 
instead. Why, Sir ! a thick double riband, more than an 
inch broad ; only conceive what a material addition it must 
have been to my ordinary clothing !" The chain, he might 
have added, was apt to be worse than nothing, for it was 
of irregular application, tattooing his person, as it were, 
with a minutely decussated exposure, so that the cold was 
likely to have struck him as with the teeth of a comb ! 
The secure one has an anxiety peculiar to himself on the 
subject of easy-chairs, nightgowns, and slippers. The 
easy-chair must be exact in angle to a single minute of a 
degree ; the nightgown must be properly seen to in respect 
of fur and flannel ; the slippers must every night be placed 
for him at the proper place ; and if Jenny has been so in 
attentive as to place the left one on the right of the other, 
he feels himself not a little discomposed. The secure one 
is most pestilently and piquantly accurate about all things. 
He loves to arrange, and arrange, and arrange, and over 
again arrange and settle all the preliminaries and pertinents 
of any little matter which cannot reasonably be done but 
one way. If he wishes, for instance, to confer with an 
upholsterer respecting some alteration in the above easy- 
chair, he first calls one forenoon, and inflicts an hour's ex 
planation upon the unhappy man of wood who is not all 
a man of wood, otherwise he would, in such a case, be 
happy. It does not in the least matter at what hour the 
tradesman should come to see this chair, for the secure 
one is to be at home the whole day. Yet the very liberty 
at which he stands produces a difficulty. It would be 
charity in Providence, by any interference, " to give him 
not to choose." " Say eleven ; I shall then be quite dis 
engaged will that hour suit you ? Or make it any other 
hour say twelve or say half-past eleven half-past would 
do very well." [He recollects that he seldom gets the 
whole fiddle-faddle of feeding the canaries over by half- 
past.'] " Suppose it were a quarter to twelve ; that would 
answer me better still. I may, perhaps, take a walk out 



SECURE ONES. 95 

at mid-day ; would a quarter to twelve do ? Or I might 
hurry the canaries, and then the half-past might do. I 
dare say half-past will do best after all ; mind half-past 
eleven," &c. &c. The man comes, and the business of the 
chair is entered into. The whole affair is most amply can 
vassed. The secure one sits down in it, and gives a lec 
ture in a very ex-catliedra style upon all its properties and 
defects. He complains of the back reclining a little too 
much back, or the bottom showing too little bottom, or some 
other fault equally inappreciable ; and the upholsterer sees 
at once that the secure one only complains of this, as he 
is apt to do of other things, for the very uneasiness arising 
from its over-easiness. 

" Lulled on the rack of a too-easy chair." 

The fact is, the secure one has brought every appli 
ance of life to such an absolute exactitude and perfection, 
that, having no longer any thing to give him pain, he be 
comes quite wretched. Secureness, it is evident, may go 
too far. We may become actually frightened in this world 
at our own caution. We may be shocked by the very un 
impeachability of our own virtue. We may become miser 
able through the extremity of our happiness. In the same 
manner the secure one, when he has "got all things 
right," as he would say, finds himself, to his great disap 
pointment, just at the threshold of woe and evil. He has 
exactly got time to set his house in order, before the proper 
consequence of such an event befalls him ; and he expires 
at the very ^moment when he has just completed his prepara 
tions to live. 

There is another order of secure ones, whose careful 
ness refers rather to their wealth than their health. There 
is an awful inviolability of pocket about such men a pro 
voking guardedness against all the possible appeals of friend 
ship, and all the impulses of benevolence. Such men look 
as if they were all stanchioned over. La Pucelle itself 
was not more perfectly fortified than their breeches. A 
poorer man is apt to feel in their presence as if he were 



96 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

under an indictment for an intention either to beg or borrow, 
or, perhaps, to steal from them. He sees something crimi 
native against himself in every impregnable-looking button. 
Secure ones of this class, perhaps, are bachelors under forty 
careful, circumspect men, that have passed through the 
ordeal of a thousand evening parties without ever being in 
the least danger. They abstain from marrying, from very fear 
lest any advantage should be got of them. They cannot 
enter into the slightest intercourse with a young lady, with 
out letting it appear that they are perfectly on their guard. 
The most undesigning girl, like the above poor man, feels 
in their presence as if she were liable to be construed into 
an absolute " drapery miss." He is always quite civil, but 
that is from his very securencss : he knows he is in no danger. 
An experienced woman gives up a man of this kind at first 
sight. She sees he is cook's meat, i. e. that he is to marry a 
middle-aged kitchen woman at fifty, upon the ground of her 
proficiency in preparing a beef-steak. The general feeling 
of the sex regarding this sort of secure one is, " Confound 
the fellow ! does he think that any one cares for him, or 
would take him though he were willing?" 

" Nobody wants you, Sir, she said." 

The secure one, however, does not appear ever to 
suppose that the ladies have a veto in proposals of mar 
riage. He looks upon them all as a class so eager on 
capturing and entrapping men, that it never enters into his 
head that there is such a thing as a rejected offer. The 
man he considers to be the passive and accepting party ; 
the lady is the besieging enemy, and he is the fortress ; 
the marriage takes place only if he chooses. It may be 
supposed, then, what would be the state of a secure 
one's mind, if he were to relent some fine day in a fit of 
generosity (a thing only to be supposed in the event of 
his becoming fey\ and in a liberal, candid, honourable man 
ner, offer his hand to a young lady of little fortune, whom 
he was disposed to think suitable on the score of personal 
merit alone, but who having some prior attachment to a 



SECURE ONES. 97 

man one-half as old, and twice as generous, was under the 
necessity of only thanking him for the honour. The cook 
or any thing after that ! And how the whole sex would 
rejoice in his calamity ! ! "A fellow, forsooth, that has 
been a living insult to the tribe of womankind all his days. 
He is well served." 

There is another kind of secure one, considerably dif 
ferent in circumstances from the above a married man 
about sixty, with a large family, in which there are several 
grown daughters. These girls are constantly under his 
eye. At church he puts them into a pew, and sits down 
at the door himself, as if he were a kind of serpent guard 
ing the Hesperian fruit. To the eyes of hundreds of young 
men under twenty, who are not yet considered to be suf 
ficiently settled in the world to marry, these young ladies 
seem unapproachable as the top of the steeple. They look 
as if they were absolutely walled round with jealous and 
secure paternity. One after another they are taken off by 
middle-aged cousins and other distant relations, about whose 
"respectability" there can be no doubt; and the young 
men in the back pew sigh to see that the family is deter 
mined upon being self-contained. For it is one of those 
families, perhaps, who enjoy the credit of a great deal of 
vague, and not very strictly apportioned wealth, under the 
clause, " There's plenty o' siller amang them;" and who 
seem as if they would consider the admission of a stranger 
into the circle as a thing of some danger, however " respect 
able" he might appear. 



98 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



TO SCOTLAND. 

Scotland ! the land of all I love, 

The land of all that love me ; 
Land, whose green sod my youth has trod, 

Whose sod shall lie above me ! 
Hail ! country of the brave and good, 

Hail ! land of song and story ; 
Land of the uncorrupted heart, 

Of ancient faith and glory ! 
Like mother's bosom o'er her child, 

Thy sky is glowing o'er me ; 
Like mother's ever-smiling face, 

Thy land lies bright before me. 
Land of my home, my father's land, 

Land where my soul was nourished ; 
Land of anticipated joy, 

And all by memory cherish'd ! 
Oh, Scotland, through thy wide domain, 

What hill, or vale, or river, 
But in this fond enthusiast heart 

Has found a place for ever? 
Nay, hast thou but a glen or shaw, 

To shelter farm or shieling, 
That is not garner'd fondly up 

Within its depths of feeling ? 
Adown thy hills run countless rills, 

With noisy, ceaseless motion ; 
Their waters join the rivers broad, 

Those rivers join the ocean : 
And many a sunny, flowery brae, 

Where childhood plays and ponders, 
Is freshen'd by the lightsome flood, 

As wimpling on it wanders. 
Within thy long-descending vales, 

And on the lonely mountain, 
How many wild spontaneous flowers 

Hang o'er each flood and fountain ! 
The glowing furze the " bonny broom, 

The thistle and the heather ; 
The bluebell, and the gowan fair, 

Which childhood loves to gather. 
Oh, for that pipe of silver sound, 

On which the shepherd lover, 
In ancient days, breathed out his soul, 

Beneath the mountain's cover ! 



TO SCOTLAND. 

Oh, for that Great Lost Power of Song, 

So soft and melancholy, 
To make thy every hill and dale 

Poetically holy ! 
And not alone each hill and dale, 

Fair as they are by nature, 
But every town and tower of thine, 

And every lesser feature ; 
For where is there the spot of earth, 

Within my contemplation, 
But from some noble deed or thing 

Has taken consecration ? 
First, I could sing how brave thy sons, 

How pious and true-hearted, 
Who saved a bloody heritage 

For us in times departed ; 
Who, through a thousand years of wrong, 

Oppress'd and disrespected, 
Ever the generous, righteous cause 

Religiously protected. 
I'd sing of that old early time, 

When came the victor Roman, 
And, for the first time, found in them 

Uncompromising foemen ; 
When that proud bird, which never stoop'd 

To foe, however fiery, 
Met eagles of a sterner brood 

In this our northern eyry. 
Next, of that better glorious time, 

When thy own patriot Wallace 
Repell'd and smote the myriad foe 

Which storm'd thy mountain palace ; 
When on the sward of Bannockburn 

De Bruce his standard planted, 
And drove the proud Plantagenet 

Before him, pale and daunted. 
Next, how, through ages of despair, 

Thou brav'dst the English banner, 
Fighting like one who hopes to save 

No valued thing but honour. 
How thy own young and knightly kings, 

And their fair hapless daughter, 
Left but a tale of broken hearts 

To rary that of slaughter. 
How, in a later, darker time, 

When wicked men were reigning, 
Thy sons went to the wilderness, 

All but their God disdaining ; 



99 



100 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

There, hopeful only of the grave, 
To stand through morn and even, 

Where all on earth was black despair, 
And nothing bright but heaven. 

And, later still, when times were changed, 

And tend'rer thoughts came o'er thee, 
When abject, suppliant, and poor, 

Thy injurer came before thee. 
How thou did'st freely all forgive, 

Thy heart and sword presented, 
Although thou knew'st the deed must be 

In tears of blood repented. 

Scotland ! the land of all I love, 

The land of all that love me ; 
Land, whose green sod my youth has trod, 

Whose sod shall lie above me ! 
Hail ! country of the brave and good, 

Hail ! land of song and story ; 
Land of the uncorrupted heart, 

Of ancient faith and glory ! 

R. C. 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 

" Let them say I am romantic so is every one said to be, that 

either admires a fine thing or does one. On my conscience, as the world 
goes, 'tis hardly worth any body's while to do one for the honour of it. 
Glory, the only pay of generous actions, is now as ill paid as other great 
debts ; and neither Mrs Macfarland, for immolating her lover, nor you for 
constancy to your lord, must ever hope to be compared to Lucretia or 
Portia." Pope, to Lady M. W. Montague. 

IT was formerly the fashion in Scotland for every father of 
a family to take all the people under his care along with him 
to church, leaving the house locked up till his return. No 
servant was left to cook the dinner, for it was then judged 
improper to take a dinner which required cooking. Neither, 
except in the case of a mere suckling, was it considered ne 
cessary to leave any of the children ; every brat about the 
house was taken to church also ; if they did not understand 
what was said by the minister, they at least did not prevent 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 101 

the attendance of those who did ; and moreover and this 
was always a great consideration they were out of harm's 
way. One Sunday, in autumn 1719, Sir John Swinton of 
Swinton, in Berwickshire, was obliged to omit his little 
daughter Margaret from the flock which usually followed 
him to church. The child was indisposed with some trifling 
ailment, which, however, only rendered it necessary that she 
should keep her room. It was not considered requisite that 
a servant should be left behind to take charge of her, for she 
was too sagacious a child to require any such guardianship ; 
and Sir John and Lady Swinton naturally grudged, with the 
scruples of the age, that the devotions of any adult member 
of their household should be prevented on such an account. 
The child, then, was left by herself in one of the upper bed 
rooms of the old baronial mansion of Swinton, no other 
measure being taken for her protection than that of locking 
the outer door. 

For a girl of ten years of age, Margaret Swinton was pos 
sessed of much good sense and solidity of character. She 
heard herself doomed to a solitary confinement of six hours 
without shrinking ; or thought, at least, that she would have 
no difficulty in beguiling the time by means of her new book 
the Pilgrim's Progress. So long as the steps and voices 
of her kindred were heard about the house, she felt quite at 
her ease. But, in reality, the trial was too severe for the 
nerves of a child of her tender age. When she heard the 
outer door locked by the last person that left the house, she 
felt the sound as a knell. The shot of the bolt echoed 
through the long passages of the empty house with a super 
natural loudness ; and, next moment after, succeeded that 
perceptible audible quiet, the breath-like voice of an unte- 
nanted mansion, which, like the hum of the vacant shell, 
seems still as if it were charged with sounds of life. There 
was no serious occasion for fear, seeing that nothing like real 
danger could be apprehended ; nor was this the proper time 
for the appearance of supernatural beings : yet the very 
loneliness of her situation, and the speaking stillness of all 



102 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

around her, insensibly overspread her mind with that vague 
negative sensation which is described by the native word 
eeriness. From her window nothing was visible but the 
cold blue sky, which was not enlivened by even the occa 
sional transit of a cloud. By and by the desolating wind 
of autumn began to break upon the moody silence of the 
hour. It rose in low melancholy gusts, and, whistling mo 
notonously through every chink, spoke to the mind of this 
little child, of withering woods, and the lengthened excur 
sions of hosts of leaves, hurried on from the scene of their 
summer pride into the dens and hollows where they were to 
decay. The sound gradually became more fitful and im 
petuous, and at last appeared to her imagination as if it 
were the voice of an enemy who was running round and 
round the house, in quest of admission now and then 
going away as if disappointed and foiled, and anon returning 
to the attack, and breathing his rage and vexation in at every 
aperture. She soon found her mind possessed by a nume 
rous train of fantastic fancies and fearful associations, drawn 
from the store of nursery legends and ballads which she was 
in the habit of hearing night after night, at the fireside in 
the hall, and which were infinitely more dreadful than the 
refined superstitions of modern children. She thought of 
the black bull of Norway, which went about the world de 
stroying whatever of human life came within its reach ; of 
the weary well at the World's End, which formed the 
entrance into new regions, from whence no traveller ever 
returned ; and of the fairies or good neighbours, a small 
green-coated race of supernatural creatures, who often 
came to the dwellings of mortals, and did them many good 
and evil turns. She had been told of persons yet ab've, 
who in their childhood had been led away by these fays 
into the woods, and fed for weeks with wild berries and the 
milk of nuts, till at length, by the poorfu preaching of some 
great country divine, they were reclaimed to their parents, 
being in such cases generally found sitting under a tree near 
their own homes. She had heard of a queen of these people 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 103 

the Queen of Elfinland who occasionally took a fancy 
for fair young maidens, and endeavoured to wile them into 
her service ; and the thought occurred to her, that, as the 
fairies could enter through the smallest aperture, the house 
might be full of them at this moment. 

For several hours the poor child suffered under these 
varied apprehensions, till at last she became in some mea 
sure desperate, and resolved at least to remove to another 
part of the house. The parlour below stairs commanded 
from its window a view of the avenue by which the house 
was approached ; and she conceived that, by planting her 
self in the embrasure of one of those windows, she would 
be at the very border of the eerie region within doors, and 
as near as possible to the scene without, the familiarity of 
which was in itself calculated to dispel her fears. From 
that point, also, she would catch the first glimpse of the 
family returning from church, after which she would no 
longer be in solitude. Trying, therefore, to think of a 
merry border tune, she opened her own door, walked along 
the passage making as much noise as she could and 
tramped sturdily and distinctly down stairs. The room of 
which she intended to take possession was at the end of 
a long passage leading from the back to the front of the 
house. This she traversed slowly not without fear of 
being caught from behind by some unimaginable creature 
of horror ; an idea which, on her reaching the chamber 
door, so far operated upon her, that, yielding to her ima 
ginary terrors, and yet relying for safety upon getting into 
the parlour, she in the same moment uttered a slight scream 
and burst half joyfully into the room. Both of these ac 
tions scarcely took up more than the space of a single 
moment, and in another instant she had the door closed 
and bolted behind her. But what was her astonishment, 
her terror, and her awe, when, on glancing round the room, 
she saw distinctly before her, and relieved against the light 
of the window, the figure of a lady, in splendid apparel, 
supernaturally tall, and upon whose countenance was de- 



104 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

picted a surprise not less than her own ! The girl stood 
fixed to the spot, her breath suspended, and her eyes wide 
open, surveying the glorious apparition, whose beauty and 
fine attire, unlike aught earthly she had ever seen, made 
her believe it to be an enchanted queen an imaginary be 
ing, of which the idea was suggested to her by one of the 
nursery tales already alluded to. Fortunately, the asso 
ciations connected with this personage were rather of a 
pathetic than an alarming character ; and though she still 
trembled at the idea of being in the presence of a superna 
tural object, yet as it was essentially beautiful and pleasing, 
and supposed to be rather in a condition of suffering than 
in the capacity of an injurer, Margaret Swinton did not 
experience the extremity of terror, but stood for a few 
seconds in innocent surprise, till at length the vision com 
pletely assured her of its gentle and pacific character, by 
smiling upon her, and, in a tone of the most winning sweet 
ness, bidding her approach. She then went forward, 
with timid and slow steps ; and becoming convinced that 
her enchanted queen was neither more nor less than a real 
lady of this world, soon ceased to regard her with any other 
sentiment than that of admiration. The lady took her 
hand, and addressed her by name at first asking a few 
unimportant questions, and concluding by telling her that 
she might speak to her mother of what she had seen, but 
by no means to say a word upon the subject to any other 
person, and that under pain of her mother's certain and se 
vere displeasure. Margaret promised to obey this injunc 
tion, and was then desired by the lady to go to the window, 
to see if the family were yet returning from church. She 
did so, and found that they were not as yet in sight ; when, 
turning round to give that information to the stranger, she 
found the room empty, and the lady gone. Her fears then 
returned in full force, and she would certainly have fainted, 
if she had not been all at once relieved by the appearance 
of the family at the head of the avenue, along which the 
dogs as regular church-goers as their master ran barking 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 105 

towards the house, gratifying her with what she afterwards 
declared to have been the most welcome sounds that ever 
saluted her ear. 

Miss Swinton, being found out of her own room, was 
sharply reprimanded by her mother, and taken up stairs to 
be again confined to the sick-chamber. But before being 
left there, she found an opportunity of whispering into her 
mother's ear, that she had seen a lady in the low parlour. 
Lady Swinton was arrested by the words, and, immediately 
dismissing the servant, asked Margaret, in a kindly and con 
fidential tone, what she meant. The child repeated, that 
in the low parlour she had seen abeautiful lady an enchant 
ed queen who had afterwards vanished, but not before 
having exacted from her a promise that she would say no 
thing of what she had seen, except to her mother. " Mar 
garet," said Lady Swinton, " I see you have been a very 
good girl ; and since you are so prudent, I will let you know 
a little more about this enchanted queen, though her whole 
story cannot properly be disclosed to you at present." She 
then conducted Margaret back to the parlour, pushed aside 
a sliding panel, and entered a secret chamber, in which 
the child again saw the tall and beautiful woman, who was 
now sitting at a table with a large prayer-book open before 
her. Lady Swinton informed the stranger, that, as Mar 
garet had kept her secret so far according to her desire, 
she now brought her to learn more of it. " My dear," 
said her ladyship, " this lady is unfortunate her life is 
sought by certain men ; and if you were to tell any of your 
companions that you have seen her, it might perhaps be 
the cause of bringing her to a violent death. You could 
not wish that the enchanted queen should suffer from so 
silly an error on your part." Margaret protested, with 
tears, that she would speak to none of what she had seen ; 
and after some farther conversation, she and her mother 
retired. 

Margaret Swinton never again saw this apparition ; but 
some years afterwards, when she had grown up, and all fears 



106 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

respecting the unfortunate lady were at an end, she learned 
the particulars of her story. She was the Mrs Macfarlane 
alluded to in the motto to this paper ; a person whose fatal 
history made a noise at the time over all Britain, and inte 
rested alike the intelligent and the ignorant, the noble and 
the mean. 

Mrs Macfarlane was the only daughter of a gentleman 
of Roxburghshire, who had perished in the insurrection of 
1715. An attempt was made by his surviving friends to 
save the estate from forfeiture, so that it might have been 
enjoyed by his orphan daughter, then just emerged into wo 
manhood. But almost all hope of that consummation was 
soon closed, and, in the meantime, the unfortunate young 
lady remained in a destitute situation. The only arrange 
ment that could be devised by the generosity of her friends, 
was to permit her to reside periodically for a certain time 
in each of their houses a mode of subsistence from which 
her spirit recoiled, but to which, for a little while, she was 
obliged to submit. It was while experiencing all the bitter 
pangs of a dependent situation, encountered for the first 
time, and altogether unexpectedly, that Mr Macfarlane, a 
respectable and elderly law agent, who had been employed 
by her father, came forward and made an offer of his hand. 
Glad to escape from the immediate pain of dependency, 
even at the hazard of permanent unhappiness, she accepted 
the proposal, although her relations did every thing they 
could to dissuade her from a match so much beneath her 
rank. The proud spirit of Elizabeth Ker swelled almost 
to bursting, when she entered the dwelling of her low-born 
husband ; and the humble marriage -feast which was there 
placed before her, seemed in her eyes as the first wages of 
her degradation. But her own reflections might have been 
endured, and in time subdued, if they had not been kept 
awake by the ungenerous treatment which she received from 
all her former friends. The pride of caste was at this period 
unbroken in Scotland, and it rigorously demanded the ex 
clusion of " the doer's wife" from all the circles in which 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 107 

she had previously moved. The stars made a conspiracy 
to banish the sun. If Mrs Macfarlane had been educated 
properly, she would have been able to repel scorn with 
scorn, and, in these tergiversations of the narrow-spirited 
great, would have only seen their degradation, not her 
own. But under her deceased mother, a scion of a better 
house than even her father's, she had grown up in the full 
participation of all the ridiculous notions as to caste, and 
of course was herself deeply sensible of the advantages she 
had forfeited. Rendered irritable in the highest degree by 
consciousness of her own loss, she received every slight 
thrown upon her by society into her innermost heart, 
where it festered and fed upon her very vitals. She found 
that she had fallen, that the step was irretrievable ; and 
as factitious degradation, imposed by the forms of society, 
always in a short time becomes real, her character suffered 
a material deterioration. She took refuge from offended 
self-love in a spirit of hatred and contempt for her fellow- 
matrons, and began to entertain feelings from which, in 
earlier and happier years, she would have shrunk as from 
actual crime. 

There was at least one branch of the better sort of Edin 
burgh society which never manifested any disinclination to 
her acquaintance. This was the class of loose young men 
of good birth, who daily paraded at the Cross with flowing 
periwigs and glancing canes, and nightly drowned their senses 
in a vulgar debauch, from which they occasionally awoke 
in the morning with the duty of settling scores by a rencon 
tre in St Ann's Yards, or at St Leonard's Crags. This set 
of brawlers, the proper successors of those drunken cavaliers 
who disgraced a preceding age, subsisted in a state of pure 
antagonism to the stayed and decorous habits of the gene 
ral community ; many of them were literally the children 
of cavaliers, and indebted in a great measure for their idle 
way of life to the circumstances of the government, which 
dictated an exclusive distribution of its patronage among 
its own adherents, and of course left the poor Jacobites 



108 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

exposed to all the temptations of idleness. Dicing and 
golfing were the employments of their forenoons ; in the 
evening they would stagger from table into Heriot's Green, 
or Lady Murray's garden in the Canongate, where they 
would make a point of staring out of countenance such 
sober citizens and their daughters as ventured to frequent 
those fashionable promenades. According to a Presbyte 
rian writer of the day, they sent to London regularly for 
the last fashions and the newest oaths ; but perhaps the 
latter part of the report is only a scandal. If such per 
sonages were to revive now-a-days, and appear some fore 
noon among the modern beaux esprits of Prince's Street, 
they would be looked upon, with their long wide-skirted 
coats, and buckles, and cravats, as a set of the most so 
lemn looking gentlemen ; but in their own time, there were 
no ideas associated with them but those of reckless, hot 
headed youth, and daily habits the most opposite to those 
of decency and virtue. 

Mrs Macfarlane, while she sunk from the society of 
gentlewomen of her own rank, still retained such acquaint 
ance as she had ever happened to possess, of their wild 
sons and brothers. With them, she was in her turn an 
object of great interest, on account of her transcendant 
beauty, or rather its fame for the fame with such per 
sons is of far more importance than the reality. It was 
not disagreeable to Mrs Macfarlane, when she walked 
with her husband on the Castle Hill, and found herself 
passed with dry recognition by persons of her own sex, to 
be made up to by some long-waisted Sir Harry Wildair, 
who, in language borrowed from Congreve or Farquhar, 
protested that the sun was much aided in his efforts to 
illuminate the world by the light of her eyes. A rattle of 
the fan was the least favour that could be dispensed in re 
ward for such a compliment ; and then would ensue a con 
versation, perhaps only interrupted by a declaration from 
Mr Macfarlane, that he felt the air getting rather cold, and 
was afraid to stay out any longer on account of his rheu- 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 109 

matism. The society of these fops was never farther en 
couraged by Mrs Macfarlane ; indeed, it was only agreeable 
to her in public places, where it consoled her a little for 
the ungenerous slights of more respectable persons. Yet 
it had some effect upon her reputation, and was partly the 
cause of all her misfortunes. 

About two years after the insurrection of 1715, the host 
of Edinburgh fops received an important accession in Mr 
George Cayley, a young English gentleman, who was sent 
down as one of the commissioners upon the forfeited estates. 
Cayley brought with him a considerable stock of cash, an 
oath of recent coinage, said to be very fashionable in Pall 
Mall, and a vest of peculiar cut, which he had lately got 
copied at Paris from an original belonging to the Regent 
Orleans. As he also brought a full complement of the most 
dissolute personal habits, he might be considered as recom 
mended in the strongest manner to the friendship of the 
native beaux ; if, indeed, his accomplishments were not apt 
rather to produce displeasure from their superiority. Some 
days after his arrival, he was introduced to Mrs Macfarlane, 
to whom he was an object of some interest on account of 
his concern in the disposal of her father's estate. If she felt 
an interest in him on this account, he was not the less struck 
by her surpassing beauty and elegant manners, which ap 
peared to him alike thrown away upon her husband, and 
the city in which she dwelt. He rushed home from the 
first interview in a state of mind scarcely to be imagined. 
That such a glorious creature should squander her light 
upon the humble house of an attorney, when she seemed 
equally fit to illuminate the halls of a palace, was in his 
eyes a perversion of the designs of nature. He wished 
that it was in his power to fly with her away away from 
all the scenes where either was known, to some place far 
over this world's wilderness, where every consciousness 
might be lost, except that of mutual love. Over and over 
again he deplored the artificial bonds imposed by human 
laws, and protected by the virtuous part of the human 



110 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

race, by which hearts the most devoted to each other were 
often condemned to eternal separation. His heart, he 
found, was possessed by sensations such as had never be 
fore moved it. It worshipped its object as a kind of idol, 
instead of, as formerly, regarding it as a toy. He flung 
himself in idea before the shrine of her splendour, in breath 
less, boundless, despairing passion. 

It is probable that if Cayley had been fortunate enough 
to meet Mrs Macfarlane before she was married, he might 
have been inspired with an attachment equally devoted, 
and which, being indulged innocently, might have had the 
effect of purifying him from all his degrading vices, and 
raising him into a worthy member of society. As it was, 
the passion which, in proper circumstances, is apt to re 
fine and humanise, only lent a frantic earnestness to his 
usual folly. He made it his endeavour to obtain as much 
of her society as possible an object in which he was great 
ly favoured by his official character, which caused him to 
be treated with much less coolness by Mr Macfarlane than 
was otherwise to have been expected. That individual 
had not altogether lost hope of regaining the property to 
which his wife was entitled, and he therefore met Mr Cayley's 
advances with more than corresponding warmth, every 
other sentiment being for the time subordinate to this im 
portant object. The young Englishman, in order to culti 
vate this delightful intimacy with the greater convenience, 
removed from his former lodgings to a house directly oppo 
site to Mrs Macfarlane's, in the High Street, where, at 
such times as a visit was out of the question, he would sit 
for hours watching patiently for the slightest glimpse of her 
through the windows, and judging even a momentary gleam of 
her figure within the dim glass as an ample compensation for 
his pains. He now became much less lively than before 
forsook, in some measure, the company of his gay con 
temporaries and seemed, in short, the complete beau ideal 
of the melancholy, abstracted lover. It was his custom to 
spend most of his evenings in Mrs Macfarlane's house ; and, 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. Ill 

except during those too quickly flying hours, time was to him 
the greatest misery. Existence was only existence in that 
loved presence ; the rest was a state of dormancy or watch 
fulness only to be spent in pain. If he applied at all to 
the business for which he was commissioned by the go 
vernment, it was only to that part of it which related to the 
inheritance of Mrs Macfarlane, in order that he might every 
night have an excuse for calling upon that lady, to inform 
her of the progress he was making in her cause. His at 
tachment in that quarter was soon whispered abroad in 
society ; and while it served as a grateful theme for the 
tongues of Mrs Macfarlane's former compeers, the favour 
with which he seemed to be received was equally the sub 
ject of envy to the young men, few of whom had ever found 
much countenance in her house, for want of something to 
recommend them equally to her husband. 

Scarcely any thing is calculated to have so deteriorat 
ing an effect upon the mind as the constant fret of an un 
lawful passion. In every one of the clandestine and stealthy 
operations by which it is sought to be gratified, a step is 
gained in the downward descent towards destruction. Cay- 
ley, who was not naturally a man of wicked dispositions, 
and who might have been reclaimed by this passion, had 
it been virtuous, from all his trivial follies, gradually became 
prepared, by the emotions which convulsed his bosom, for 
an attempt involving the honour of his adored mistress, 
and, consequently, her whole happiness in life, as well as 
that of many innocent individuals with whom she was con 
nected. This he now only waited for an opportunity of 
carrying into effect, and it was not long ere it was afforded. 

Called by the urgent request of a Highland client, Mr 
Macfarlane had left town somewhat suddenly, and was 
not expected to return for upwards of a week. During 
his absence, Mrs Macfarlane endeavoured to repress the 
attentions of Mr Cayley as much as possible, from a sense 
of propriety, and contented herself with a kind of society 
dumb, t yet eloquent which she felt to be much more fit 



112 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

for her situation the society of her infant child. One 
evening, however, as she sat with her tender charge hushed 
to sleep upon her bosom, Mr Cayley was unexpectedly 
ushered in, notwithstanding that she had given directions 
for his exclusion after a certain hour, now past. To add 
to her distress, he appeared a little excited, as she thought, 
by liquor, but, in reality, by nothing but the burning and 
madly imprudent passion which had taken possession of 
him. He sat down, and gazed at her for a few moments 
without speaking, while she remonstrated against this un 
seasonable intrusion. She then rung her bell, in order to 
chide her servant for disobedience of her orders ; but Mr 
Cayley tranquilly told her, that he had taken the liberty of 
sending the girl away upon an errand. 

" In the name of heaven," said the lady, " what do you 
mean ?" 

" I mean, my dear Madam," answered he, "to have a 
little conversation with you upon a subject of great import 
ance to us both, and which I should like to discuss without 
the possibility of interruption. Know, Madam, that, ever 
since I first saw you, I have fondly, madly loved you. You 
are become indispensable to my existence ; and it depends 
upon you whether I shall hereafter be the most happy or 
the most miserable of men." 

" Mr Cayley," cried the lady, "what foolery is this? 
You are not in your senses you have indulged too much 
in liquor. For heaven's sake, go home ; and to-morrow 
you will have forgot that such ideas ever possessed your 
brain." 

" No, never, my angel !" cried he, "can I forget that I 
have seen and loved you. I might sleep for ages ; and, 
if I awakened at all, it would be with your image imprinted 
as strongly as ever upon my heart. You now see a man 
prepared for the most desperate courses in order to obtain 
you. Listen for a moment. In the neighbourhood, a 
coach stands ready to carry us far from every scene where 
you have hitherto been known. Consent, and I procure 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 

for you (which is now within my power) a reversal of your 
father's attainder. You shall again possess the domains 
where your fathers for ages back have been held in almost 
regal veneration, and where you spent the pleasant years 
of your own youth. Deny me, and to-morrow your re 
putation is blasted for ever. The least plausible tale, you 
well know, would be received and believed by society, if 
told respecting Mrs Macfarlane." 

" Profligate wretch!" exclaimed the unfortunate lady; 
' ' can I believe my ears when they tell me that such wick 
edness exists in a human bosom ? Look, Sir, at this infant 
were there no principles of virtue within me to dictate a 
contemptuous rejection of your proposals, do you think 
that I could leave this innocent to pine and die under the 
cold neglect of strangers, or to survive to a less blessed life 
with the stigma of a disgraced mother fixed for ever upon 
her ? Were I the basest woman that ever lived, as you 
seem to think me, would nature permit so awful a viola 
tion of her laws ? Could I leave my child, and not next 
moment be struck dead by fire from heaven for my crime ? 
The alternative, indeed, is awful. Well you know the 
point upon which I am most easily affected. Base, how 
ever, as you avow yourself, I cannot yet suppose that you 
could be guilty of a trick so worthy of the devil himself, as 
to blast the reputation, where you could not fix the real 
cause of infamy." 

" Do not flatter yourself too much on that score," re 
joined Cayley ; " you do not now see a man actuated by 
ordinary principles. I am tortured and confounded by an 
impetuous passion, which you have excited. If you take 
from me all hope of a consent to my first proposal, I must 
endeavour to bring you into my power by the second. To 
morrow, did I say ? Nay, I will go this night, and -tell 
every man I know that you are the slave of my passion. 
Not a lady in Edinburgh but will know of it to-morrow 
before she has left her pillow. You will then, I think, see 
K 



114 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the necessity of consenting to the scheme of flight which 
I now put into your power." 

He pronounced these words in such a disordered and 
violent manner, that the unhappy lady sat for some time 
unable to reply. She hardly recovered her senses till she 
heard the outer door clang behind him, as he went upon 
the demoniac purpose which he had threatened. 

The first place that Mr Cayley went to was John's 
Coffeehouse, a fashionable tavern in the Parliament Square, 
where he found a large group of his dissolute young friends, 
drinking claret out of silver stoups. The company was in 
an advanced stage of intoxication and riot, very much to 
the annoyance, apparently, of a few smaller knots of decent 
citizens, who were indulging in some more moderate po 
tations after the fatigues of the day, and endeavouring to 
understand as much as they could of the London Intelli 
gencer, the Flying Post, and other little sheets of news 
which lay upon the various tables. " Well, Cayley," cried 
one of the young roisterers, "come and tell us how you 
are getting on now with the fair lady over the way hus 
band not at home must be making great advances, I sup 
pose ?" " Make yourself quite at ease on that subject ; 
I am so, I assure you." This he said in so significant 
a tone, that it was at once understood. A flood of raillery, 
however, was immediately opened upon him ; no one would 
believe what he said, or rather implied ; and thus, as they 
designed, he was drawn to make much more explicit de 
clarations of his supposed triumph. No attempt was made 
by himself or others to conceal the subject of their con 
versation from the rest of the individuals present. It was 
understood distinctly by the sober citizens above mentioned, 
some of whom shrugged their shoulders, knocked their 
cocked hats firmly down upon their heads, took staff in 
hand, and strode consequentially and indignantly out of 
the room. As Cayley had predicted, the whole affair was 
blazoned abroad before next morning. 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 115 

Mrs Macfarlane, as might be supposed, enjoyed little 
sleep after the agitations of the preceding evening. She 
could hardly believe that anything so wicked as what had 
been threatened by Mr Cayley could be perpetrated by a 
being in human shape ; but yet, recollecting the extra 
ordinary state in which he seemed to be, she could not 
altogether assure herself of the contrary. In the forenoon 
she went to pay a visit in a distant part of the town ; and 
she could not help remarking, that while she seemed to 
have become an object of additional interest to the male 
sex, the ladies, even those with whom she had formerly 
been on terms of civil recognition, averted their eyes from 
her, with an expression, as she thought, of contempt. 

The lady upon whom she called received her in the 
coldest manner, and, on an explanation being asked, did 
riot hesitate to mention what she had heard as the town's 
talk that morning, namely, that Mr Cayley professed him 
self to be her favoured lover. The unfortunate lady burst 
into a passion of tears and lamentations at this intelligence, 
protested her innocence a thousand times, and declared 
herself to be only the victim of a profligate ; but still she 
saw that she did not produce an entirely exculpatory effect 
upon the mind of her friend. She went home in a state 
of distress bordering on despair. Her early misfortunes 
through the severity of the government ; her dependent 
situation in the houses of her kinsfolk ; her unhappy mar 
riage to a man she could never love ; and, finally, the 
cruel coldness with which she had been treated by her for 
mer friends in the days of her depression, all recurred upon 
her mind, and united with the more awful grief which had 
now overtaken her, prepared her mind for the most des 
perate resolutions. 

Early in the afternoon she sent a note to Mr Cayley, 
requesting, in the usual terms, the favour of his company. 
The receipt of her billet threw him into transports of joy, 
for he believed that his scheme had already taken effect, 
and that she was now prepared to accede to his proposals. 



116 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, 

He therefore dressed himself in his best style, and at the 
proper hour (he felt too secure of his prey to go sooner) 
walked across the street to his appointment. He was shown 
into a room at the back of the house, where he had never 
before been, and where there was little furniture besides a 
picture of Mrs Macfarlane, painted by Sir John Medina, 
an Italian artist who long practised his trade at the Scot 
tish capital. This portrait, which he began to gaze upon 
with all the enthusiasm of a lover, represented his mistress 
in a style and manner strikingly beautiful. The utmost 
serenity, united with the utmost innocence, shone in those 
sweetly noble features. The fair open brow glowed like 
the summer sky, calmly and cloudlessly beautiful. The 
eyes shone with the lustre of gladness and intelligence, and 
the whole expression was resolved into an exquisite and 
killing smile. The lover stood in a sort of transport be 
fore this image of all he held dear on earth, as if he were 
yielding to an idolatrous contemplation of its extraordinary 
loveliness, when the door was opened and behold the 
original ! Instead of the voluptuous smile which shone 
on the canvass of Medina, a Beautiful Fury stood before 
him a Hecate not yet grown old. He started with hor 
ror ; for not only did she bear in her countenance the most 
threatening ensigns of passion, but she carried in her hand 
two large pistols, one of which she held extended to him, 
while with the other hand she locked the door behind 
her, at the same time keeping a watchful and glaring eye 
upon her victim. 

" Wretch," she said, "you have ruined one who never 
did you wrong. You have destroyed me as completely as 
if you had stretched me lifeless beneath your hand. More 
than this, you have rendered others who are dear to me 
unhappy for ever. My child you have deprived her of 
the nurture of a mother ; you have fixed upon her name 
a stain which will never be washed out. And yet for all 
this, society, cruel as it is to the victims, provides no punish 
ment hardly even any censure to the criminal. Were it 



STORY OF MRS MACFARLANE. 117 

now my will to permit you, you might walk away scatheless 
from the fair scene you have ravaged, with nothing to dis 
turb your triumph, but the lamentations of so many broken 
hearts. You shall not, however, enjoy this triumph for 
here you shall die !" 

Cayley had stood for a few moments, gazing alternately 
at her face and at the weapon she held extended towards 
him. He heard her address as if he had heard it not. But 
at the last word, he recovered a little of his presence of 
mind, and made an effort to approach her. She at that 
moment fired, but without effect. The effort of drawing 
the trigger had depressed the muzzle of the weapon, and 
the ball entered the floor at his feet. She lost not an 
instant to present and fire the other, the* shot of which 
penetrated his breast, and he fell next moment before her, 
with but one indistinct murmur of agony ^and then all 
was still. 

One brief embrace to her child a moment at the toi 
let to arrange her travelling dress, which she had pre 
viously prepared, and the beautiful murderess was ready 
to fly. She instantly left town for the south, and, as al 
ready mentioned, received shelter and concealment in the 
house of her distant kinsman, Sir John Swinton. How 
long she was there protected, is not known, but it wag 
probably as long as the search of justice continued to be 
in the least eager. It was always understood, by those 
aged persons who knew her story, and from whom the pre 
ceding facts have chiefly been derived, that she ultimately 
escaped to some remote continental state, where she was 
supported by contributions from her relations. So closes 
one of the most tragical tales that stain the domestic annals 
of Scotland during the last century. 



118 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 

SIDE by side with victims, might be placed the kindred 
species downdraughts, who are only different from the acci 
dent of their having friends who will rather be weighed 
down by them to the very earth to the grave itself than 
permit them to sink by themselves. The downdraught is 
in reality a victim, and one of the darkest shade, being 
generally a person totally worthless in character, and 
abandoned in habits ; but then he has not altogether cut 
the cables which bound him to his native grade in so 
ciety he has not all forgot himself to disgrace he is still 
domesticated with his friends he has a mother, or a wife, 
or a brother, or a sister, or perhaps an old aunt, who will 
try to keep him in food and clean linen, and, having lost 
all hope of his ever being actively good, will do anything 
for him, if he will only preserve a neutrality, and not be 
positively evil. He is a victim in appearance (always 
excepting the clean shirt), but he enjoys the happy superio 
rity over that class, of having an open door to fly to when 
he pleases, and either a kind relation, who considers him 
" only a little wild in the meantime," or else one who, for 
the sake of decent appearances, will endeavour to patch 
up all his peccadiloes, and even be tyrannised over by him, 
rather than shock society by an open rupture. The per 
sonal tendencies of a downdraught to victimization are 
strong as the currents of the great deep, but he is withheld 
from it by others. He has always some anchorage or other 
upon decent life, to keep him back from the gulf to which 
he would otherwise hurry on. In many cases, the very 
kindness and indulgence of friends was the original cause 
ef his becoming a downdraught. He had every thing held 
to his head. He was encouraged in his pretences of head 
aches as an excuse for staying away from school. When 
afterwards an apprentice, he was permitted to break off, 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 119 

on the score of being compelled to put on fires and sweep 
out the shop. Or, perhaps, it was from none of those 
causes. Possibly, he was just one of those persons who 
seem to be totally destitute of all perception of the terms 
upon which men are permitted to exist in this world ; that 
is, that they are either to be so fortunate as to have "their 
fathers born before them," so that they may accede to 
wealth without exertion, or must else do something to 
induce their fellow-creatures to accord them the means of 
livelihood without beggary. That many persons are really 
born without this great leading faculty, is unfortunately 
but too indisputable ; and, assuredly, they are as proper 
inmates for a lunatic asylum as more frantic madmen ; for 
what is the use of reason, or even of talent, without the 
desire of exerting it, either in one's own behalf, or in 
behalf of mankind ? The terms of existence we allude to 
are expressed in the text of Scripture, " By the sweat of 
thy brow thou shalt earn thy bread;" so that the man 
must be considered a kind of heretic, as well as a fool, who 
will not, or can not, understand them. Yet the fact is so, 
that many men arrive at maturity with either a sense of 
these conditions of life, more or less imperfect, or no sense 
of them at all. They perhaps conceive themselves to be 
born to keep down the pavement of Prince's Street with 
boots one inch and a half deep in the heel, or to fumigate 
the air of that elegant street with cigars at three shillings 
per dozen ; but that is the utmost extent to which their 
notions of the purposes of life ever extend. These men, 
of course, are predestined downdraughts. We see them 
already with our mind's eye, exhausting the kindness and 
patience of a brother, or a wife, yea almost of a mother, 
with their idle and dissolute habits dragging those rela 
tions slowly but surely down into misery and disgrace 
and only in the meantime saved from being kicked out of 
doors, as they deserve, not by any regard for merits of 
their own, for they have none, but by the tenderness of 
those relations for their own reputation. 



120 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

A decent citizen, of the name of Farney, retired about 
five-and-twenty years ago from active life, and, planting 
himself in a neat villa a little way beyond the southern 
suburbs of Edinburgh, resolved to do nothing all the rest 
of his life but enjoy the ten or twelve thousand pounds 
which he had made by business. He was a placid, inoffen 
sive old man, only somewhat easy in his disposition, and, 
therefore, too much under the control of his wife, who un 
fortunately was a person of a vulgarly ambitious character. 
The pair had but one child a daughter, Eliza Farney 
the toast of all the apprentices in the South Bridge, and 
really an elegant, and not unaccomplished young lady. 
The only object which Mr and Mrs Farney now had in 
life, besides that of enjoying all its comforts, was the dis 
posal of this young lady in marriage. Whenever there is 
such a thing as ten thousand pounds connected with the 
name of a young lady, there is generally a great deal more 
fuss made about it than when the sum is said to exist in 
any other shape or circumstances. It is important in the 
eyes of all the young men who think themselves within shot 
of it. It is important in the eyes of all the young women 
who have to lament that they do not possess similar advan 
tages. It is important in the eyes of all the fathers and 
mothers of sons, who think themselves within range of it. 
And, lastly, it is important, immensely important indeed, 
in the eyes of parties, young lady, mother and father, sis 
ter or brother, who have anything to say in the disposal 
of it. Money in this shape, one would almost think, is of 
a different value from money in any other : the exchange 
it bears against cash in business, or cash in the prospect of 
him who knows he can win it, is prodigious. At the very 
lowest computation, a thousand pounds in the purse of a 
young lady is worth ten thousand in the stock of a man of 
trade. Nay, it is astonishing what airs we have known a 
few hundred pounds of this kind put on in respect, or rather 
disrespect, of decent people, who were almost winning as 
much in the year. In fact, the fiddle-faddle about the 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 121 

disposal of an heiress is a great farce, and never fails to put 
either the parties concerned in the disposal, or else the 
candidates for the acquisition, into a thousand shabby and 
selfish attitudes. It is hard to say if the young lady her 
self is the better for it all. The only certain effect of her 
possessing a fortune, is, that it deprives her of ever having 
the pleasing assurance, given to most other women, that 
she is married for her own sake alone. Sincere love is 
apt to retire from such a competition, through the pure 
force of modesty, its natural accompaniment ; and the man 
most apt to be successful is he who, looking upon the 
affair as only a mercantile adventure, pursues it as such, 
and only hopes to be able to fall in love after marriage. 

It happened that Eliza Farney was loved, truly and 
tenderly loved, by a young man of the name of Russell, 
whose parents had been acquainted with the Farneys in 
their earlier and less prosperous days, but were now left 
a little behind them. Young Russell had been the play 
mate of Eliza in their days of childhood; he had read 
books with her, and taught her to draw, in their riper 
youth ; and all the neighbours said, that, but for the bril 
liant prospects of Miss Farney, she could not have found 
a more eligible match. Russell, however, was still but the 
son of a poor man. He was himself struggling in the com 
mencement of a business, which he had begun with slender 
means, in order to sustain the declining fortunes of his 
parents. His walk in life was much beneath the scope 
of his abilities, much beneath his moral deserts ; but, 
under a strong impulse of duty, he had narrowed his 
mind to the path allotted to him, instead of attempting to 
do justice to his talents by entering upon any higher and 
more perilous pursuit. Thus, as often happens, an intel 
lect and character, which might have brightened the highest 
destinies, were doomed to a sphere all unmeet for them, 
where they were in a manner worse than lost, as they only 
led to a suspicion which was apt to be unfavourable to the 
prospects of their possessor, namely, that he was likely to 



122 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

be led, by his superior tastes, into pursuits to which his 
fortune was inadequate, or into habits which would ship 
wreck it altogether. Russell looked upon Eliza Farney, 
and despaired. He saw her, as she advanced into woman 
hood, recede gradually from his sphere in society, and enter 
into one more suitable to her father's improving fortunes, 
into which it was not for him to intrude. Eliza had, per 
haps, entertained at one time a girlish fondness for him ; 
but it was not of so strong a character as to resist the am 
bitious maxims of her mother, and the sense of her own 
importance and prospects, which began to act upon her in 
her riper years. 

" Amongst the rest young Edwin sighed, 
But never talked of love." 

Some appearance of coldness, which he saw, or fancied 
he saw, in her conduct towards him, caused his proud and 
pure nature to shrink back from the vulgar competition 
which he saw going forward for the hand of "the heiress." 
It was not that the fondest wishes of his heart were met 
with disappointment perhaps he could have endured that 
but he writhed under the reflection, that external cir 
cumstances should separate hearts that once were allied, 
and that no conscious purity of feeling, no hope of here 
after distinguishing himself by his abilities, was of avail 
against the selfish and worldly philosophy which dictated 
his rejection. It was only left for him to retire into the 
chambers of his own thoughts, and there form such solemn 
resolutions for improving his circumstances and distinguish 
ing his character, as might hereafter, perhaps, enable him 
to prove to the cold being who now despised him, how 
worthy, how more than worthy, perhaps, he was of having 
enjoyed her affections, even upon the mean calculations 
by which he was now measured and found wanting. 

The mother, to whom this rupture was chiefly owing, 
now applied herself heartily to the grand task of getting 
her daughter "properly disposed of." Every month or 
so, her house was turned topsy-turvy, for the purpose of 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 123 

showing off the young lady in gay assemblies. Care was 
taken that no one should be invited to these assemblies 
who was merely of their own rank. Unless some cap 
ture could be made in a loftier, or what appeared a loftier 
circle, it was all as nothing. The human race hang all in 
a concatenation at each other's skirts, those before kicking 
with all their might to drive off those behind them, at the 
same time that they are struggling might and main, de 
spite of corresponding kicks, to hold fast, and pull them 
selves up by means of their own predecessors. This is 
particularly the case where a mother has a daughter to 
dispose of with the reversion of a few thousands. Money 
under these circumstances, as already explained, would 
be absolutely thrown away if given only to a person who 
estimated it at its ordinary value ; it must be given to one 
who will appreciate it as it ought to be, and sell pounds of 
free-will and honourable manhood for shillings of the vile 
dross. At length, at a ball held in the Archers' Hall a 
kind of Almack's in the east the very man was met with 
a genteel young spark, said to be grand-nephew to a 
baronet in the north, and who was hand in glove with the 
Greigsons, a family of quis quis gentility in the New Town, 
but who loomed very large in the eyes of a person dwelling 
in the south side. This fellow, a mere loose adventurer, 
whose highest destiny seemed to be to carry a pair of co 
lours if he could get them, and who positively had no claims 
upon consideration whatsoever, except that he kept a de 
cent suit of clothes upon his back, and was on terms of 
intimacy with a family supposed to belong to the haut ton 
this poor unanealed wretch, recommended by impudence 
and a moustache, which he amiably swore he would take 
off when married, gained the prize from which the modest 
merit of Russell was repelled. In a perfect fluster of de 
light with the attentions he paid to her daughter, terrified 
lest he should change his mind, or any unforeseen event 
prevent the consummation so devoutly to be wished, the 
managing mother presented no obstruction to the courtship. 



124 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

" Such a genteel young man !" she would say to her hus 
band. " He is greatly taken out in good company. Just 

the night before last, he was at the Honourable Mrs 's 

party in Oman's Rooms. He danced with Miss Forster, 
the great heiress, who, they say, is distractedly in love 
with him. But he says she has naething like the elegant 
carriage o' our 'Liza. Indeed, between you and me, says 
he, jokingly, to me the other day, she's splay-footed. He 
could make his fortune at once, you see, however, and I'm 
sure it's really extraordinary o' him to particulareese the 
like o' us in the way he's doing" and so forth. The old 
man sat twirling his thumbs and saying nothing, but having 
his own fears all the time that all was not really gold that 
glittered. He was, however, one of those people who, 
upon habit and principle, never say a single word about 
any speculative thing that is proposed to them, till the 
result has been decided, and then they can tell that they 
all along thought it would turn out so. It was untelling 
the prescience and wisdom that old Farney believed him 
self to be thus possessed of. Suffice it to say, the managing 
mother, within the month, made out a mittimus of de 
struction in favour of her daughter, Eliza Farney, spin 
ster, consigning her to the custody of William Dempster, 
Esq., blackguard by commission, and downdraught by 
destiny. 

The fortune of Miss Farney was not exactly of the 
kind that suited Mr Dempster's views. It was only 
payable after the death of her father. Mr Dempster, 
therefore, saw it to be necessary to take expedients for 
obtaining the use of it by anticipation. He commenced a 
large concern in some mercantile line, obtaining money in 
advance from the old gentleman, in order to set the estab 
lishment on foot. He also procured his signature to in 
numerable bills, to enable him to carry it on. The business, 
in reality, was a mere mask for obtaining the means of 
supporting his own depraved tastes and appetites. There 
was hardly any kind of extravagance, any kind of vice, 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 125 

which he did not indulge in at the expense of old Farney. 
The result was what might be expected from such premises. 
Exactly a twelvemonth after the marriage, Dempster stopped 
payment, and absconded without so much as even taking 
leave of his wife. His folly and profligacy together had 
already absorbed the whole fortune with which Mr Farney 
had retired from business, besides a good deal more for 
which the unfortunate old man was security. He was in 
consequence totally ruined, left destitute in old age, with 
out the least resource; while the young elegant female, 
who a short year before was the admiration and envy of 
glittering circles, had just become a mother, upon the bed 
which only waited for her convalescence to be sold for 
behoof of her husband's creditors. 

Farney found refuge and considered himself most for 
tunate in finding it in a beneficiary institution for de 
cayed citizens, of which he had himself, in better days, 
been one of the managers, but which he did not live long 
to enjoy. His wife, about the same time, died of one of 
those numberless and varied diseases which can only be 
traced to what is called a broken heart. The daughter 
the unhappy, and, in a great measure, guiltless victim of 
her wretched ambition had no eventual resource, for the 
support of herself and her infant, but to open a small school, 
in which she taught female children the elements of reading, 
writing, and sewing. The striking infelicity of her fate, joined 
to her own well-known taste and industrious habits, in time 
obtained for her considerable patronage in this humble oc 
cupation ; and she would eventually have been restored 
to something like comfort, but for the unhallowed wretch 
whose fate had become identified with her own. Where 
this fellow went, or how he subsisted, for the three years 
during which he was absent, no one ever knew. He was 
heard to talk of the smugglers in the Isle of Man, but it 
can only be surmised that he joined that respectable corps. 
One day, as Mrs Dempster sat in the midst of her little 
flock of pupils, the door was opened, and in crawled her 



126 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

prodigal husband, emaciated, travel-worn, and beggar-like, 
with a large black spot upon one of his cheeks, the result 
of some unimaginably low and scoundrelly brawl. The 
moment she recognised him, she fainted in her chair ; the 
children dispersed and fled from the house, like a flock of 
chickens at sight of the impending hawk ; and when the 
unfortunate woman recovered, she found herself alone with 
this transcendant wretch, the breaker of the peace of her 
family, the murderer of her mother. He accosted her in 
the coolest manner possible, said he was glad to see her 
so comfortably situated, and expressed an anxiety for food 
and liquor. She went with tottering steps to purvey what 
he wanted ; and while she was busied in her little kit 
chen, he sat down by her parlour fire, and commenced 
smoking from a nasty black pipe, after the manner of the 
lowest mendicants. When food and drink were set before 
him, he partook of both with voracious appetite. Mrs 
Dempster sat looking on in despair, for she saw that the 
presence of this being must entirely blight the pleasant 
scene which her industry had created around her. She 
afterwards said, however, that she could have perhaps 
overlooked all, and even again loved this deplorable wretch, 
if he had inquired for his child, or expressed a desire to 
see him. He did neither he seemed altogether bent on 
satisfying his own gross appetites. After spending a few 
hours in sulky unintermitted smoking and drinking, he was 
conveyed to a pallet in the garret, there to sleep ofF his 
debauch. 

It were needless to go through all the distressing details 
of what ensued. Dempster henceforth became a down- 
draught on his wife. This forlorn woman often confessed 
to her friends that she was perfectly willing to support her 
husband, provided he would be but content with the 
plain fare she could offer him, and just walk about and 
do nothing. But he was not of a temper to endure this 
listlessness. He required excitement. Instead of quietly 
spending his forenoons in the arbour, called the Cage, in the 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 127 

Meadows, among decayed military pensioners, and other 
harmless old men, he prowled about the crowded mean 
thoroughfares, drinking where he could get liquor for 
nothing, and roistering in companies of the most debased 
description. He incurred debts in all directions on the 
strength of his wife's character, and she was necessarily 
compelled to liquidate them. The struggles which she at 
this time made were very great. Like the mother of Gray 
the poet, she endured all kinds of ill usage, and persevered 
under every difficulty to give her son a respectable educa 
tion, in order that he might have an opportunity of wiping 
away the stains of his father's vices, and be a comfort to 
his mother in the decline of life. To do this, and at the 
same time continue paying the vile debts of her profligate 
husband, was altogether impossible. She exhausted the 
beneficence, and even tired the pity of her friends. It 
need hardly be mentioned, that the creditors of a husband 
have an undeniable claim upon the effects of his wife. It 
unfortunately happened that the wretches with whom 
Dempster contracted his debts, were as worthless as him 
self. After draining every resource which his wife could 
command, he summed up his villainy by giving a promissory 
note for fifteen pounds to one of his lowest associates. 
It is supposed that he struck the bargain for a couple of 
guineas, for with this sum he again absconded from Edin 
burgh, and, taking his way to Greenock, shipped himself 
on board of a vessel for America. At first, his wife was 
thankful for the relief ; she again breathed freely ; but her 
joy was soon turned into mourning. The promissory note 
made its appearance ; she had just scraped up and paid 
her rent ; she had not therefore a farthing in the world, 
In a fortnight, the whole of her effects were sold upon dis 
traint. She was turned to the street a second time, almost 
bent to the dust with the burden of her miseries. The 
first night she received shelter in the house of a respectable 
" much-tried" widow, who was the only person she could 
freely speak to about her destitute condition. Next day, 



J30 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

panying him to Edinburgh, where, with the little sum she- 
had saved, and what besides they could raise by the sale 
of her superfluous furniture, he would enter into business 
on his own account, and she should never again be obliged 
to work for either herself or for him. The poor woman 
had no alternative. She was compelled to abandon the 
scene, where for so many years she had enjoyed the com 
forts of life and the respect of society, in order to be dragged 
at the chariot wheels, or rather at the cart's tail, of her 
husband's vices and fortunes, through scenes to which she 
shuddered to look forward. 

In the capital, Dempster's design of entering into 
business, if he ever seriously entertained it, was no more 
talked of. Fleshed once again with a taste of his former 
indulgences, he rushed headlong into that infamous ca 
reer, which already had twice ended in voluntary banish 
ment. His wife's finances were soon exhausted ; but, 
with the barbarity of a demon taskmaster, he would every 
day leave her with a threat, which she but too well knew 
he would execute, of beating her, if she should not be able 
to produce next morning a sum necessary for the gratification 
of his wretched appetites. It was now in vain to attempt 
that mode of subsistence by which she had hitherto sup 
ported herself. So long as she was haunted by this evil 
genius, that was impracticable. By the interest, however, 
of some of her former friends, she obtained a scanty and 
precarious employment for her needle, by which she endea 
voured to supply the cravings of her husband, and her own 
simpler wants. From morning early, through the whole 
day, and till long after midnight, this modest and virtuous 
woman would sit in her humble lodging, painfully exerting 
herself at a tedious and monotonous task, that she might 
be able to give to her husband in the morning that sum, 
without which she feared he would only rush into greater 
mischief, if not into absolute crime. No vigils were 
grudged, if she only had the gratification at last of seeing 
him return. Though he often staid away the whole night, 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 131 

she never could permit herself to suppose that he would 
do so again, but she would sit bending over her work, or, 
if she could work no more from positive fatigue, gazing into 
the dying embers of her fire, watching and watching for 
the late and solitary foot, which, by a strange exertion of 
the sense, she could hear and distinguish long ere any 
sound would have been perceptible to another person, 
Alas, for the sleepless nights which woman so often en 
dures for the sake of her cruel helpmate ! Alas, for the 
generous and enduring affection which woman cherishes 
so often for the selfish heart by which it is enslaved ! 

A time at length arrived when the supplies purveyed by 
Mrs Dempster from her own earnings were quite incom 
petent to satisfy this living vampire. She saw him daily 
rush from her presence, threatening that he would bring 
her to the extremity of disgrace by the methods he would 
take to obtain money. She lived for weeks in the agonising 
fear that the next moment would bring her news of some 
awful crime committed by his hand, and for which he was 
likely to suffer the last penalty of the law. She hardly 
knew who or what were his associates ; but occasionally 
she learned, from mutterings in his sleep, that his practices 
were of the most flagitious and debased kind. He seemed 
to be the leader or director of a set of wretches who made 
a livelihood by midnight burglary. At length, one day he 
came home at an unusual hour, accompanied by three 
strangers, with whom he entered into conversation in the 
next room. Between that apartment and the room in 
which he was sitting, there was a door, which, being never 
used, was locked up. Through the thin panels, she over 
heard a scheme laid for entering the house of . ., a 
villa in the neighbourhood, in order to rob the tenant, 
whom they described as a gentleman just returned from 
the East Indies, with a great quantity of plate and other 
valuables. One of the persons in conference had visited 
the house, through the kindness of a servant, to whom he 
had made up as a sweetheart ; and he therefore was able 



130 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

panying him to Edinburgh, where, with the little sum she- 
head saved, and what besides they could raise by the sale 
of her superfluous furniture, he would enter into business 
on his own account, and she should never again be obliged 
to work for either herself or for him. The poor woman 
had no alternative. She was compelled to abandon the 
scene, where for so many years she had enjoyed the com 
forts of life and the respect of society, in order to be dragged 
at the chariot wheels, or rather at the cart's tail, of her 
husband's vices and fortunes, through scenes to which she 
shuddered to look forward. 

In the capital, Dempster's design of entering into 
business, if he ever seriously entertained it, was no more 
talked of. Fleshed once again with a taste of his former 
indulgences, he rushed headlong into that infamous ca 
reer, which already had twice ended in voluntary banish 
ment. His wife's finances were soon exhausted ; but, 
with the barbarity of a demon taskmaster, he would every 
day leave her with a threat, which she but too well knew 
he would execute, of beating her, if she should not be able 
to produce next morning a sum necessary for the gratification 
of his wretched appetites. It was now in vain to attempt 
that mode of subsistence by which she had hitherto sup 
ported herself. So long as she was haunted by this evil 
genius, that was impracticable. By the interest, however, 
of some of her former friends, she obtained a scanty and 
precarious employment for her needle, by which she endea 
voured to supply the cravings of her husband, and her own 
simpler wants. From morning early, through the whole 
day, and till long after midnight, this modest and virtuous 
woman would sit in her humble lodging, painfully exerting 
herself at a tedious and monotonous task, that she might 
be able to give to her husband in the morning that sum, 
without which she feared he would only rush into greater 
mischief, if not into absolute crime. No vigils were 
grudged, if she only had the gratification at last of seeing 
him return. Though he often staid away the whole night, 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 131 

she never could permit herself to suppose that he would 
do so again, but she would sit bending over her work, or, 
if she could work no more from positive fatigue, gazing into 
the dying embers of her fire, watching and watching for 
the late and solitary foot, which, by a strange exertion of 
the sense, she could hear and distinguish long ere any 
sound would have been perceptible to another person. 
Alas, for the sleepless nights which woman so often en 
dures for the sake of her cruel helpmate ! Alas, for the 
generous and enduring affection which woman cherishes 
so often for the selfish heart by which it is enslaved ! 

A time at length arrived when the supplies purveyed by 
Mrs Dempster from her own earnings were quite incom 
petent to satisfy this living vampire. She saw him daily 
rush from her presence, threatening that he would bring 
her to the extremity of disgrace by the methods he would 
take to obtain money. She lived for weeks in the agonising 
fear that the next moment would bring her news of some 
awful crime committed by his hand, and for which he was 
likely to suffer the last penalty of the law. She hardly 
knew who or what were his associates ; but occasionally 
she learned, from mutterings in his sleep, that his practices 
were of the most flagitious and debased kind. He seemed 
to be the leader or director of a set of wretches who made 
a livelihood by midnight burglary. At length, one day he 
came home at an unusual hour, accompanied by three 
strangers, with whom he entered into conversation in the 
next room. Between that apartment and the room in 
which he was sitting, there was a door, which, being never 
used, was locked up. Through the thin panels, she over 
heard a scheme laid for entering the house of , a 

villa in the neighbourhood, in order to rob the tenant, 
whom they described as a gentleman just returned from 
the East Indies, with a great quantity of plate and other 
valuables. One of the persons in conference had visited 
the house, through the kindness of a servant, to whom he 
had made up as a sweetheart ; and he therefore was able 



132 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

to lead the attack through such a channel as rendered 
success almost certain. " The nabob," said this person, 
" sleeps in a part of the house distant from the room in 
which his boxes are for the present deposited. But should 
he attempt to give us any disturbance, we have a remedy 
for that, you know." And here the listener's blood ran 
cold at hearing a pistol cocked. From all that she could 
gather, her husband was only to keep watch at the outside 
of the house, while the rest should enter in search of the 
booty. It is impossible to describe the horror with which 
she heard the details of the plot. Her mind was at first 
in such a whirl of distracted feeling, that she hardly knew 
where she stood ; but as the scheme was to be executed 
that very evening, she saw it necessary to exert herself 
quickly and decisively, and, therefore, she immediately 
went to the house of a friend, and wrote an anonymous 
note to the person most concerned, warning him of a de 
sign (she could use no more specific language) which she 
knew was entertained against a certain part of his property, 
and recommending him to have it removed to some more 
secure part of his house. To make quite sure of this note 
being delivered in time, she took it herself to the gate, and 
left it with the porter, whom she strictly enjoined to give 
it immediately into the hands of his master. She then 
went home, and spent an evening of misery more bitter 
than the cup of death itself. She had formerly passed 
many a lonely night at her cheerless fireside, while wait 
ing for the return of her wretched husband ; but she never 
spent one like this. When she reflected upon the happi 
ness of her early days, and the splendid prospects which 
were then said to lie before her, and contrasted them with 
the misery into which she had been so suddenly plunged, 
not by any fault of her own, but, as it appeared, by the 
mere course of destiny, she could have almost questioned 
the justice of that supreme power, by which she piously 
believed the concerns of this lower world to be adjusted. 
What dire calamities had sprung to her from one unfortu 



THE DOWNDRAUGHT. 133 

nate step ! What persecutions she had innocently en 
dured ! How hopeless was her every virtuous exertion 
against the perverse counteraction of a being from whom 
society could not permit her to be disjoined ! And, finally, 
what an awful outburst of wretchedness was at this mo 
ment, to appearance, impending over her ! Then she 
recalled one gentle recollection, which occasionally would 
steal into her mind, even in her darkest hours, and fill it 
with an agreeable but still painful light the thought of 
Russell Russell, the kind and good, whom, in a moment 
of girlish vanity, she had treated harshly, so that he va 
nished from her presence for ever, and even from the place 
where he had suffered her scorn. Had fate decreed that 
she should have been united to that endeared mate of her 
childhood, how different might have been her lot ! how 
different, also, perhaps, might have been his course of life ! 
for she feared that her ungenerous cruelty had also made 
shipwreck of his noble nature. These meditations were 
suddenly disturbed by the entrance of Dempster, who 
rushed into her room, holding a handkerchief upon his 
side, and, pale, gory, and breathless, fell upon the ground 
before her. Almost ere she had time to ascertain the 
reality of this horrid vision, quick footsteps were heard 
upon the stair. The open door gave free admission, and in 
a moment the room was half filled with watchmen, at the 
head of whom appeared a middle-aged gentleman, of a pre 
possessing though somewhat disordered exterior. " This," 
he exclaimed, "is the villain ; secure him, if he be yet 
alive, but I fear he has already met the punishment which 
is his due." The watchmen raised Dempster from the 
ground, and, holding his face to the light, found that the 
glaze of death was just taking effect upon his eyes. The 
unhappy woman shrieked as she beheld the dreadful spec 
tacle, and would have fallen upon the ground if she had 
not been prevented by the stranger, who caught her in his 
arms. Her eyes, when they first re-opened, were met by 
those of RUSSELL. 



134 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

It would be difficult to describe the feelings with which 
these long-severed hearts again recognised each other, the 
wretchedness into which she was plunged, by learning that 
her well-intended efforts had unexpectedly led to the death 
of her husband, or the returning tide of grateful and affec 
tionate emotion which possessed his bosom, on being 
informed that those efforts had saved his life, not to speak 
of the deep sensation of pity with which he listened to the 
tale of her life. A tenderer feeling than friendship was now 
impossible, and, if it could have existed, would have hardly 
been in good taste ; but Russell, now endowed with that 
wealth which, when he had it not, would have been of so 
much avail, contented himself to use it in the pious task 
of rendering the declining years of Eliza Farney as happy 
as her past life had been miserable. 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 

IN the course of a ramble through the western part of Fife, 
I descended one evening upon the ancient burgh of Culross, 
which is situated on a low stripe of land beside the sea 
shore, with a line of high grounds rising behind it, upon 
which are situated the old abbey church and the ruins of 
a very fine mansion-house, once the residence of the lords 
of the manor. On stepping forth next morning from the 
little inn, I found that the night had been stormy, and that 
the waves of the Forth were still rolling with considerable 
violence, so as to delay the usual passage of the ferry 
boat to Borrowstouness. Having resolved to cross to that 
part of the opposite shore, I found that I should have ample 
time, before the boat could proceed, to inspect those re 
mains of antiquity, which now give the burgh almost its 
only importance in the eyes of a traveller. The state of 
the atmosphere was in the highest degree calculated to in* 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 135 

crease the interest of these objects. It was a day of gloom, 
scarcely different from night. The sky displayed that fixed 
dulness which so often succeeds a nocturnal tempest ; the 
sea was one sheet of turbid darkness, save where chequered 
by the breaking wave. The streets and paths of the little 
village-burgh showed, each by its deep and pebbly seam, 
how much rain had fallen during the night ; and all the 
foliage of the gardens and woods around, as well as the 
walls of the houses, were still drenched with wet. Having 
secured the services of the official called the bedral, I was 
conducted to the abbey church, which is a very old Gothic 
structure, but recently repaired and fitted up as a paro 
chial place of worship. It was fitting, in such a gloomy 
day, to inspect the outlines of abbots and crusaders which 
still deck the pavement of this ancient temple ; and there 
was matter, perhaps, for still more solemn reflection in the 
view of the adjacent mansion-house. Culross Abbey, as 
this structure is called, was finished so lately as the reign 
of Charles the Second, and by the same architect with 
Holyrood House, which it far exceeded in magnificence. 
Yet, as the premature ruin of youthful health is a more 
affecting object than the ripe decline of age, so did this 
roofless modern palace, with the wallflower waving from 
its elegant Grecian windows, present a more dismal aspect 
than could have been expected from any ruin of more hoary 
antiquity. The tale which it told of the extinction of 
modern grandeur, and the decline of recently flourishing 
families, appealed more immediately and more powerfully 
to the sympathies than that of remote and more barbarous 
greatness, which is to be read in the sterner battlements of 
a border tower, or an ancient national fortress. The site 
had been chosen upon a lofty terrace overlooking the sea, 
in order that the inmates might be enlivened by the ever- 
changing aspect of that element, and the constant transit 
of its ships ; but now all useless was this peculiarity of 
situation, except to serve to the mariner as a kind of land 
mark, or to supply the more contemplative voyager with 



136 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, 

the subject of a sigh. With a mind attuned by this object 
to the most melancholy reflections, I was conducted to 
what is called an aisle or burial vault, projecting from the 
north side of the church, and which contains the remains 
of the former lords of Culross. There images are shown, 

cut in beautiful Italian marble, of Sir Bruce, his lady, 

and several children, all of which must have been procured 
from the Continent at a great expense ; for this honourable 
knight and his family flourished in the early part of the 
seventeenth century, when no such art was practised in 
Scotland. The images, however, and the whole sepulchre, 
had a neglected and desolate appearance, as may be ex 
pected by the greatest of personages, when their race has 
become unknown at the scene of their repose. In this 
gloomy chamber of the heirless dead, I was shown a pro 
jection from one of the side-walls, much like an altar, over 
which was painted on the wall the mournfully appropriate 
and expressive word " FUIMUS." Below was an inscrip 
tion on a brass plate, importing that this was the resting 
place of the heart of Edward Lord Bruce of Kinloss, for 
merly proprietor of the princely estate of Culross ; and 
that the story connected with it was to be found related 
in the Guardian, and alluded to in Clarendon's History of 
the Great Rebellion. It was stated that the heart was 
enclosed in a silver case of its own shape, which had re 
posed here ever since it ceased to beat with the tide of 
mortal life in the year 1613, except that it was raised from 
its Cell for a brief space in 1808, in the course of some 
repairs upon the sepulchre. As I had a perfect recollection 
of the story told by Steele, which indeed had made a deep 
impression upon me in boyhood, it was with no small 
interest that I beheld the final abode of an object so im 
mediately connected with it. It seemed as if time had been 
betrayed, and two centuries annihilated, when I thus found 
myself in presence of the actual membrane, in bodily sub 
stance entire, which had, by its proud passions, brought 
about the catastrophe of that piteous tale. What ! thought 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 137 

I, and does the heart of Edward Bruce, which beat so 
long ago with emotions now hardly known among men, 
still exist at this spot, as if the friends of its owner had 
resolved that so noble a thing should never find decay ? 
The idea had in it something so truly captivating, that it 
was long ere I could quit the place, or return to the feelings 
of immediate existence. The whole scene around, and 
the little neglected burgh itself, had now become invested 
with a fascinating power over me ; and I did not depart 
till I had gathered, from the traditions of the inhabitants, 
the principal materials of the following story, aiding them, 
after I had reached home, by reference to more authentic 
documents : 

Edward Lord Bruce of Kinloss, the second who bore the 
title, was the son of the first lord, who is so memorable in 
history as a serviceable minister to King James the Sixth 
during the latter years of his Scottish reign, having been 
chiefly instrumental, along with the Earl of Mar, in smooth 
ing the way for his majesty's succession to Queen Elizabeth. 
After the death of his father, the young Lord Bruce con 
tinued, along with his mother, to enjoy high consideration 
in the English court. He was a contemporary and playmate 
of Henry Prince of Wales, whom he almost equalled in 
the performance of all noble sports and exercises, while, 
from his less cold character, he was perhaps a greater fa 
vourite among those who were not prepossessed in favour 
of youthful royalty. There was not, perhaps, in the whole 
of the English court, any young person of greater promise, 
or more endearing qualities, than Lord Bruce, though, in 
respect of mere external accomplishments, he was certainly 
rivalled by his friend Sir George Sackville, a younger son 
of the Earl of Dorset. This young gentleman, who was 
the grandson of one poet,* and destined to be the grandsire 
of another,f was one of those free and dashing spirits, who, 

* Lord Buckhurst. 

t The Earl of Dorset, a poetical ornament of the court of Charles the 
Second. 



138 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

according to the accounts of contemporary writers, kept 
the streets of London in an almost perpetual brawl, by 
night and by day, with their extravagant frolics, or, more 
generally, the feuds arising out of them. His heart and ge 
nius were naturally good, but the influence of less innocent 
companions gradually betrayed him into evil habits ; and 
thus many generous faculties, which might have adorned 
the highest profession, were in him perverted to the basest 
uses. It was often a subject of wonder that the pure and 
elevated nature of young Lord Bruce should tolerate the 
reckless profligacy of Sackville ; but those who were sur 
prised did not take a very extended view of human nature. 
The truth is, that real goodness is often imposed upon by 
vice, and sees in it more to attract and delight than it does 
in goodness similar to itself. The gentle character of Bruce 
clung to the fierce and turbulent nature of Sackville, as if 
it found in that nature a protection and comfort which it 
needed. Perhaps there was something, also, in the early 
date of their intimacy, which might tend to fix the friend 
ship of these dissimilar minds. From their earliest boyhood 
they had been thrown together as pages in the household 
of the prince, where their education proceeded, step by 
step, in union, and every action and every duty was the 
same. It was farther remarked, that, while the character 
of Bruce appeared always to be bolder in the presence of 
Sackville than on other occasions, that of Sackville was 
invariably softened by juxtaposition with Bruce ; so that 
they had something more like a common ground to meet 
upon than could previously have been suspected. 

When the two young men were about fourteen, and as 
yet displayed little more than the common features of in 
nocent boyhood, Sackville was permitted by his parents to 
accompany Bruce on a summer visit to the paternal estates 
of the young nobleman in Scotland. There they enjoyed 
together, for some weeks, all the sports of the season and 
place, which seemed to be as untiring as their own mutual 
friendship. One day, as they were preparing to go out a- 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 139 

hunting, an aged woman, who exercised the trade of spae- 
tvife, or fortune-teller, came up to the gate. The horses 
upon which they had just mounted were startled by the 
uncouth appearance of the stranger, and that ridden by 
Sackville was so very restive as nearly to throw him off'. 
This caused the young Englishman to address her in lan 
guage of not the most respectful kind ; nor could all the 
efforts of Lord Bruce, who was actuated by different feel 
ings, prevent him from aiming at her once or twice with 
his whip. 

" For heaven's sake, Sackville," said Lord Bruce, " take 
care lest she make us all repent of this. Don't you see 
that she is a spaewife ?" 

"What care I for your spaewives ?" cried Sackville. 
" All I know is, that she is a cursed old beggar or gipsy, 
and has nearly caused me break my neck !" 

" I tell you she is a witch and a fortune-teller," said his 
gentler companion ; " and there is not a man in the country 
but would rather have his neck broken than say any thing 
to offend her." 

The woman, who had hitherto stood with a face beam 
ing with indignation, now broke out 

" Ride on to your hunting, young man," addressing 
Sackville ; " you will not have the better sport for abusing 
the helpless infirmities of old age. Some day you two will 
go out to a different kind of sport, and one only will come 
back alive ; alive, but wishing that he rather had been 
doomed to the fate of his companion." 

Both Sackville and Bruce were for the time deeply im 
pressed with this denunciation, to which the superstitious 
feelings of the age gave greater weight than can now be 
imagined ; and even while they mutually swore that hos 
tility between them was impossible, they each secretly 
wished that the doom could be unsaid. Its chief immediate 
effect was to deepen and strengthen their friendship. Each 
seemed to wish, by bestowing more and more affection 
upon his companion, at once to give to himself a better 



140 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

assurance of his own disposition to quarrel, and to his 
friend a stronger reason for banishing the painful impression 
from his mind. Perhaps this was one reason and one 
not the less strong that it was in some measure uncon 
scious why, on the separation of their characters in 
ripening manhood, they still clung to each other with such 
devoted attachment. 

In process of time, a new and more tender relation arose 
between these two young men, to give them mutually bet 
ter assurance against the doom which had been pronounced 
upon them. Lady Clementina Sackville, eldest daughter 
of the Earl of Dorset, was just two years younger than 
Sir George and his friend, and there was not a more beau 
tiful or accomplished gentlewoman in the court of Queen 
Anne. Whether in the walking of a minuet, or in the 
personation of a divine beauty in one of Ben Jonson's court 
masks, Lady Clementina was alike distinguished ; while 
her manners, so far from betraying that pride which so of 
ten attends the triumphs of united beauty and talent, were 
of the most unassuming and amiable character. It was not 
possible that two such natures as those of Lord Bruce and 
Lady Clementina Sackville should be frequently in com 
munion, as was their case, without contracting a mutual 
affection of the strongest kind. Accordingly, it soon be 
came understood that the only obstacle to their union was 
their extreme youth, which rendered it proper that they 
should wait for one or two years, before their fortunes, 
like their hearts, should be made one. It unfortunately 
happened that this was the very time when the habits of 
Sir George Sackville made their greatest decline, and when, 
consequently, it was most difficult for Bruce to maintain 
the friendship which hitherto subsisted between them. 
The household of Lord Dorset was one of that sober cast, 
which, in the next age, was characterised by the epithet 
puritanical. As such, of course, it suited with the temper 
of Lord Bruce, who, though not educated in Scotland, 
had been impressed by his mother with the grave senti- 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 141 

ments and habits of his native country. Often then did 
he mourn with the amiable family of Dorset over the 
errors of his friend ; and many was the night which he 
spent innocently in that peaceful circle, while Sir George 
roamed about, in company with the most wicked and way 
ward spirits of the time. 

One night, after he had enjoyed with Lady Clementina 
a long and delightful conversation respecting their united 
prospects, Sir George came home in a state of high intoxi 
cation and excitement, exclaiming loudly against a Scotch 
gentleman with whom he had had a street quarrel, and who 
had been rescued, as he said, from his sword, only by the 
unfair interference of some other "beggarly Scots." It 
was impossible for a Scotsman of Bruce's years to hear his 
countrymen spoken of in this way without anger ; but he 
repressed every emotion, till his friend proceeded to gene 
ralise upon the character of these " beggarly Scots," and 
extended his obloquy from the individuals to the nation. 
Lord Bruce then gently repelled his insinuations, and said, 
that surely there was one person at least whom he would 
exempt from the charge brought against his country. " I 
will make no exemptions," said the infatuated Sackville, 
" and least of all in favour of a cullion who sits in his friend's 
house, and talks of him puritanically behind his back." 
Bruce felt very bitterly the injustice of this reproach ; but 
the difficulty of shaping a vindication rendered his answer 
more passionate than he wished ; and it was immediately 
replied to by Sackville with a contemptuous blow upon 
the face. There, in a moment, fell the friendship of years, 
and deadly gall usurped the place where nothing before 
had been but " the milk of kindness." Lady Clementina, 
to whom the whole affair seemed a freak of a hurried and 
unnatural dream, was shocked beyond measure by the vio 
lence of her brother ; but she was partly consoled by the 
demeanour of Bruce, who had the address entirely to dis 
guise his feelings in her presence, and to seem as if he 
looked upon the insult as only a frolic. But though he 



142 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

appeared quite cool, the blow and words of Sackville had 
sunk deep into his soul ; and after brooding over the event 
for a few hours, he found that his very nature had become, 
as it were, changed, That bitterest of pains the pain of 
an unrequited blow possessed and tortured his breast ; 
nor was the reflection that the injurer was his friend, and 
not at the time under the control of reason, of much avail 
in allaying his misery. Strange though it be, the unkind- 
ness of a friend is the most sensibly felt and most promptly 
resented ; and we are never so near becoming the irrecon 
cilable enemies of any fellow-creature, as at the moment 
when we are interchanging with him the most earnest and 
confiding affection. Similar feelings possessed Sackville, 
who had really felt of late some resentment at Lord Bruce, 
on account of certain references which had been made by 
his parents to the regret expressed by this young noble 
man respecting his present course of life. To apologise 
for his rudeness was not to be thought of ; and, accordingly, 
these two hearts, which for years had beat in unison, be 
came parted at once, like rocks split by one of the con 
vulsions of nature, and a yawning and impassable gulf was 
left between. 

For some weeks after, the young men never met ; Sack 
ville took care never to intrude into the family circle, and 
Bruce did not seek his company. It appeared as if the 
unfortunate incident had been forgotten by the parties 
themselves, and totally unknown to the world. One day, 
however, Bruce was met in Paul's Walk by a young friend 
and countryman, of the name of Crawford, a rambling slip 
of Scottish nobility, whose very sword seemed, from the 
loose easy way in which it was disposed by his side, to 
have a particular aptitude for starting up in a quarrel. 
After some miscellaneous conversation, Crawford expressed 
his regret at a story which had lately come to his ears, 
respecting a disagreement between Sackville and Bruce. 
"What!" he said, "one might have as well expected 
Castor and Pollux to rise from their graves and fall a-fight- 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 143 

ing, as that you two should have had a tussle ! But, of 
course, the affair was confined merely to words, which, 
we all know, matter little between friends. The story 
about the batter on the face must be a neat figment clapped 
upon the adventure by Lady Fame." 

" Have you indeed heard," asked Bruce, in some agi 
tation, " that any such incident took place?" 

" Oh, to be sure," replied his companion ; " the whole 
Temple has been ringing with it for the last few days, as 
I am assured by my friend Jack Topper. And I heard it 
myself spoken of last week to the west of Temple Bar. 
Indeed, I believe it was Sackville himself who told the 
tale at first among some of his revellers ; but, for my part, 
I think it not a whit the more true or likely on that ac 
count." 

" It is," said Bruce, with deep emotion, " too true. He 
did strike me, and I, for sake of friendship and love, did 
not resent it. But what, Crawford, could I do in the 
presence of my appointed bride, to right myself with her 
brother ?" 

" Oh, to be sure," said Crawford, " that is all very true 
as to the time when the blow was given ; but then, you 
know, there has been a great deal of time since. And, 
love here or love there, people will speak of such a thing 
in their ordinary way. The story was told the other day 
in my presence to the French ambassador ; and Monsieur's 
first question was, * Doth the man yet live ?' When told 
that he was both living and life-like, he shrugged his 
shoulders, and looked more than I can tell." 

" Oh, Crawford," said Bruce, " you agonise me. I 
hoped that this painful tale would be kept between our 
selves, and that there would be no more of it. I still 
hoped, although tremblingly, that my union with the wo 
man I love would be accomplished, and that all should 
then be made up. But now I feel that I have been but 
too truly foredoomed. That union must be anticipated 
by a very different event." 



144 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

" You know best," said the careless Crawford, " what 
is best for your own honour." And away he tripped, leav 
ing the flames of hell in a breast where hitherto every 
gentle feeling had resided. 

The light talk of Crawford was soon confirmed in import 
by the treatment which Bruce began to experience in so 
ciety. It was the fashion of the age that every injury, 
however trifling, should be expiated by an ample revenge ; 
that nothing should be forgiven to any one, however pre 
viously endeared. Accordingly, no distinction was made 
between the case of Bruce and any other ; no allowance 
was made for the circumstances in which he stood respect 
ing the family of his injurer, nor for their former extraor 
dinary friendship. The public, with a feeling of which 
too much still exists, seemed to think itself defrauded of 
something which was its right, in the continued impunity 
of Sackville's insolence. It cried for blood to satisfy itself, 
if not to restore the honour of the injured party. Bruce, 
of course, suffered dreadfully from this sentiment wherever 
he appeared ; insomuch that, even though he might have 
been still disposed to forgive his enemy, he saw that to do 
so would only be to encounter greater misery than could 
accrue from any attempt at revenge, even though that at 
tempt were certain to end in his own destruction. 

It happened that just at this time Bruce and Sackville 
had occasion, along with many other attaches of the court, 
to attend the Elector Palatine out of the country, with his 
newly-married bride, Elizabeth, the daughter of the king 
and queen. The two young men kept apart till they came 
to Canterbury, where, as the royal train was viewing the 
cathedral, it chanced that they saw each other very near. 
The elector, who knew a little of their story, immediately 
called Sackville up to him, and requested his sword, enjoin 
ing -him, at the same time, in a friendly manner, to beware 
of falling out with Bruce so long as he was in attendance 
upon the court. His highness said, farther, that he had 
heard his royal father-in-law speak of their quarrel, and 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 14-3 

express his resolution to visit any transgression of the laws 
by either of them with his severest displeasure. Sackville 
obeyed the command of the elector, and withdrew to a 
part of the cortege remote from the place where Bruce was 
standing. However, it happened, that, in surveying the 
curiosities of that gorgeous architectural scene, they came 
to the monument of a Scottish crusader, who had died here 
on his way back from the Holy Land. Sackville muttered 
something respecting this object, in which the words "beg 
garly Scot" were alone overheard by Bruce, who stood at 
no great distance, and who immediately recriminated by 
using some corresponding phrase of obloquy applicable to 
England, to which Sackville replied by striking his former 
friend once more upon the face. Before another word or 
blow could pass between them, a number of courtiers had 
rushed forward to separate them, and they were immediately 
borne back to a distance from each other, each, however, 
glaring upon the other with a look of concentrated scorn 
and hate. The elector thought it necessary, after what 
had taken place, that they should be confined for a time 
to their apartments. But no interval of time could restore 
amity to those bosoms where formerly it had reigned 
supreme. It was now felt by both that nothing but blood 
could wipe out the sense of wrong which they mutually 
felt ; and, therefore, as the strictness of the king regarding 
personal quarrels rendered it impossible to fight in Britain, 
without danger of interruption, Bruce resolved to go beyond 
seas, and thence send a challenge requesting Sackville to 
follow him. 

In forming this purpose, Bruce felt entirely like a doomed 
man. He recollected the prediction of the old woman at 
Culross Abbey, which had always appeared to him, some 
how, as implying that Sackville should be the unhappy 
survivor. Already, he reflected, the least probable part 
of the prediction had been fulfilled by their having quar 
relled. Under this impression, he found it indispensable 
to his peace that he should return to London, and take 
M 



)4& SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

leave of two individuals in whom he felt the deepest 
interest his mother and his once-intended bride. Not 
withstanding the painful nature of his sensations, he found 
it would be necessary to assume a forced ease of demeanour 
in the presence of these beloved persons, lest he should 
cause them to interpose themselves between him and his 
purpose. The first visit was paid to his mother, who re 
sided at his own house . He had received, he said, some 
news from Scotland, which rendered k necessary that he 
should immediately proceed thither ; and he briefly detailed 
a story which he had previously framed in his own mind 
for the purpose of deceiving her. After having made some 
preparations for his journey, he came to take leave of her 1 
but his first precautions having escaped from his mind during 
the interval^ his forehead now bore a gloom as deep as the 
shade of an approaching funeral. When his mother re 
marked this, he explained it, not perfectly to her satisfac 
tion, but yet sufficiently so to avert farther question, by 
reference to the pain of parting with his mistress on a long 
and dangerous journey,, when just about to be united to her 
for life. As he pronounced the words " long and dangerous 
journey," his voice faltered with tenderness ; but there was 
so much truth in the real meaning of the'phrase (however 
little there might be now) r that no metaphorical interpreta 
tion occurred to the mind of Lady Bruce. He even spoke 
of his will without exciting her suspicions. There was but 
one point in it r he said, that he thought it worth while to 
allude to. Wherever or whensoever it might please fate 
to remove him from the coil of mortal life, he wished his- 
m other, or whoever might survive him, to recollect that 
his dying spirit reverted to the scenes of his infancy, and 
that his heart wished in life that it might never in death, 
be parted from that spot. These words, of course, com 
municated to Lady Bruce's spirit that gravity which the 
mention of mortal things must ever carry ; but yet nothing 
seemed amiss in what she heard. It was not till after she 
had parted with lier son not till she felt the blank impres- 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 147 

sion of his last embrace lingering on her bosom, and thought 
of him as an absent being, whom it would be long before she 
saw again that his final words had their full force upon 
her mind. Those words, like a sweet tune heard in a crowd 
with indifference, but which afterwards in solitude steals 
into and melts the soul, then revived upon her mind, and 
were pondered upon for days afterwards with a deep and 
unaccountable sadness of spirit. 

It now only remained that he should take leave of his 
mistress. She was in the garden when he arrived, and no 
sooner did she obtain a glimpse of his person, than she 
ran gaily and swiftly towards him, with a face beaming with 
joy, exclaiming that she had such good news to tell him as 
he had not ever heard before. This turned out, upon 
inquiry, to be the permission of her father that their nup 
tials should take place that day month. The intelligence 
fell upon Bruce's heart like a stab, and it was some moments 
ere he could collect himself to make an appropriate answer. 
Lady Clementina observed his discomposure, and, with a 
half-alarmed feeling, asked its cause. He explained it as 
occasioned by regret for his necessary absence in Scotland, 
to which he was called by some very urgent business, so 
as to render it necessary that the commencement of their 
mutual happiness should be put off for some time longer. 
" Thus," he said, "to be obstructed by an affair of my 
own, after all the objections of others had been removed 
with so much difficulty, is particularly galling." The dis 
appointment of the young lady was more deeply felt than 
it was strongly expressed. She was reassured, however, 
by a fervent and solemn promise from her lover, that, as 
soon as possible, he would return to make her his own. 
After taking leave of her parents, he clasped her in one last 
fond embrace, during which every moment seemed an age 
of enjoyment, as if all the felicity of which he was about to 
be defrauded had been concentrated and squandered in that 
brief space. At one moment, he felt the warm pressure of 
a being beloved above all earthly objects, and from whom 



148 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

he had expected a whole life of happiness ; at another, he 
had turned away towards the emptiness of desolation, and 
the cold breath of the grave. 

One hour did he give to reflection upon all he left behind 
an hour such as those which sometimes turn men's hair 
gray the next, and all after it, he devoted to the enterprise 
upon which he was entering. Crawford, whom he requested 
to become his second, readily agreed to accompany him 
for that purpose ; and they immediately set out for the 
Netherlands, leaving a challenge for Sackville in the hands 
of a friend, along with directions as to the proposed place 
of meeting. 

The remainder of this lamentable tale may be best told 
in the words of Sir George Sackville. That unhappy 
young man, some months after the fatal tragedy, wrote an 
account of it to a friend, for the purpose of clearing himself 
from certain aspersions which had been cast upon him. The 
language is somewhat quaint, but it gives a more forcible 
idea than could otherwise be conveyed of the frenzied 
feelings of Bruce, under the wrongs which he had suffered 
from his antagonist, as well as of the actual circumstances 
of the combat. 

' ' We met at Tergosa, in Zealand, it being the 

place allotted for rendezvous ; he being accompanied with 
one Mr Crawford, a Scotch gentleman, for his second, a 
surgeon, and a man. There having rendered himself, I 
addressed my second, Sir John Heidon, to let him under 
stand that now all following should be done by consent, as 
concerning the terms whereon we should fight, as also the 
place. To our seconds we gave power for their appoint 
ments, who agreed we should go to Antwerp, from thence 
to Bergen-op-Zoom, where in the midway but a village 
divides the states' territories from the archduke's. And 
there was the destined stage, to the end that, having 
ended, he that could might presently exempt himself from 
the justice of the country, by retiring into the dominion 
not offended. It was farther concluded, that, in case any 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 149 

should fall or slip, that then the combat should cease, and 
he whose ill-fortune had subjected him, was to acknow 
ledge his life to have been in the other's hands. But in 
case one party's sword should break, because that could 
only chance by hazard, it was agreed that the other should 
take no advantage, but either then be made friends, or else 
upon even terms go to it again. Thus these conclusions 
being each of them related to his party, was by us both 
approved, and assented to. Accordingly, we embarked 
for Antwerp. And by reason, as I conceive, he could not 
handsomely, without danger of discovery, had not paired 
the sword I sent him to Paris ; bringing one of the same 
length, but twice as broad ; my second excepted against it, 
and advised me to match my own, and send him the choice, 
which I obeyed ; it being, you know, the privilege of the 
challenged to elect his weapon. At the delivery of the 
swords, which was performed by Sir John Heidon, it pleased 
the Lord Bruce to choose my own, and then, past expec 
tation, he told him that a little of my blood would not 
serve his turn ; and, therefore, he was now resolved to 
have me alone, because he knew (for I will use his own 
words) ' that so worthy a gentleman, and my friend, could 
not endure to stand by and see him do that which he must, 
to satisfy himself and his honour.' Therefore, Sir John 
Heidon replied, that such intentions were bloody and but 
cherly, far unfitting so noble a personage, who should desire 
to bleed for reputation, not for life ; withal adding, he 
thought himself injured, being come thus far, now to be 
prohibited from executing those honourable offices he came 
for. The lord, for answer, only reiterated his former re 
solutions ; whereupon Sir John, leaving him the sword he 
had elected, delivered me the other, with his determinations. 
The which, not for matter but manner, so moved me, as 
though to my remembrance I had not for a long while eaten 
more liberally than at dinner, and therefore unfit for such 
ail action (seeing the surgeons hold a wound upon the full 
stomach more dangerous than otherwise), I requested my 



150 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

second to certify him I would presently decide the differ 
ence, and therefore he should presently meet me on horse 
back, only waited on by our surgeons, they being unarmed. 
Together we rode, but one before the other some twelve 
score paces, for about two English miles ; and then passion 
having so weak an enemy to assail as my discretion, easily 
became the victor, and, using his power, made me obedient 
to his commands. I being verily mad with anger that the 
Lord Bruce* should thirst after my life with a kind of as 
suredness, seeing I had come so far and needlessly to give 
him leave to regain his lost reputation, I bade him alight, 
which with willingness he quickly granted, and there in a 
meadow, ancle deep in water at the least, bidding farewell 
to our doublets, in our shirts began to charge each other ; 
having afore commanded our surgeons to withdraw them 
selves a pretty distance from us, conjuring them, besides, 
as they respected our favours, or their own safeties, not to 
stir, but suffer us to execute our pleasure ; we being fully 
resolved (God forgive us !) to dispatch each other by what 
means we could. I made a thrust at my enemy, but was 
short, and, in drawing back my arm, I received a great 
wound thereon, which I interpreted as a reward for my 
short shooting ; but in my revenge, I pressed into him, 
though I then missed him also, and received a wound in 
my right pap, which passed level through my body, and 
almost to my back. And there we wrestled for the two 
greatest and dearest prizes we could ever expect trial for 
honour and life. In which struggling, my hand, having 
but an ordinary glove upon it, lost one of her servants, 
though the meanest. But at last breathless, yet keeping 
our hold, there passed on both sides propositions of quit 
ting each other's swords. But when amity was dead, 
confidence could not live, and who should quit first was the 
question, which on neither part either would perform ; and 
restriving again afresh, with a kick and a wrench I freed 
my long captive weapon, which incontinently levying at 
his throat, being master still of his, I demanded if he would 



TALE OF THE SILVER HEART. 151 

ask his life, or yield his sword, both which, though in that 
imminent danger, he bravely denied to do. Myself being 
wounded, and feeling loss of blood, having three conduits 
running on me, which began to make me faint, and he 
courageously persisting not to accede to either of my pro 
positions, through remembrance of his former bloody de 
sire, and feeling of my present estate, I struck at his heart, 
but, with his avoiding, missed my aim, yet passed through 
the body, and drawing out my sword, repassed it again 
through another place, when he cried, * Oh ! I am slain !' 
seconding his speech with all the force he had to cast me. 
But being too weak, after I had defended his assault, 1 
easily became master of him, laying him on his back when 
being upon him, I redemanded if he would request his life ; 
but it seemed he prized it not at so dear a rate to be be 
holden for it, bravely replying, He scorned it.' Which 
answer of his was so noble and worthy, as I protest I 
could not find in my heart to offer him any more violence, 
only keeping him down until at length his surgeon afar off' 
cried, ' He would immediately die, if his wounds were not 
stopped.' Whereupon I asked if he desired his surgeon 
should come, which he accepted of; and so, being drawn 
away, I never offered to take his sword, accounting it 
inhuman to rob a dead man, for so I held him to be. This 
thus ended, I retired to my surgeon, in whose arms, after 
I had remained a while, for want of blood, I lost my sight, 
and withal, as I then thought, my life also. But strong 
water and his diligence quickly recovered me ; when I 
escaped a great danger ; for my lord's surgeon, when 
nobody dreamt of it, came full at me with his lord's sword ; 
and had not mine with my sword interposed himself, I had 
been slain by those base hands ; although my Lord Bruce, 
weltering in his blood, and past all expectation of life, con 
formable to all his former carriage, which was undoubtedly 
noble, cried out, ' Rascal, hold thy hand ! ' So may I prosper, 
as I have dealt sincerely with you in this relation. 
" Louvain, September 8, 1613." 



152 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Such is the melancholy story of Edward Lord Bruce, a 
young nobleman, who, but for a false point of honour, 
arising from the incorrect judging of the world, might have 
lived to make many fellow-creatures happy, and adorn the 
annals of his country. The sacred griefs of those to whom 
lie was most peculiarly endeared, it would be vain to paint. 
A mistress who wore mourning, and lived single for his sake 
all the rest of her life a mother, who survived him only 
to mourn his irreparable loss upon such holy sorrow it is 
not for me to intrude. It may be only mentioned, that the 
latter individual, recollecting the last parting words of her 
son, caused his heart to be embalmed, and brought to her in 
a silver case (the body being buried in the cathedral of Ber- 
gen-op-Zoom), and carried it with her to Culross, where 
she spent the remainder of her life in gloomy solitude, with 
that object always before her upon her table. After her 
death, it was deposited in the family vault already described, 
where it has ever since remained, the best monument of 
its own fatal history. 



CULTIVATIONS. 

ALL men are not agriculturists, horticulturists, or arbori 
culturists ; but yet almost all men are cultivators. By this it 
is meant that men in general cultivate, or coax, or unduly 
appreciate and fondle, some particular feature of their per 
sons, or else, perhaps, some integument connected with 
their persons, to such a degree as to be rather conspicuous, 
while to every thing else they only give the ordinary degree 
of attention. There are many features of human nature 
which remain to be detected and described ; and this is 
one Cultivations. So far as I am aware, no one ever 
thought of pointing it out to mankind : the subject of cul 
tivation has hitherto remained totally uncultivated. So it 
shall be no longer. 



CULTIVATIONS. 153 

Hair, as the only part of the person which actually grows 
like a vegetable, is naturally a large subject of cultivation. 
The Cavaliers long ago cultivated love-locks, which they 
kept hanging down in graceful fashion from their temples. 
These locks, or curls, are now changed for tufts or bunches 
of hair, which the young men cultivate at the same place, 
and are ever shaking up and tedding, exactly as if it were 
a crop of hay instead of hair. Mark a modern beau as 
he walks along the street, and you will observe at one 
glance that the principal part of the man the heart the 
sensorium the cynosure the point from which all the 
rest evolves the root of the man, in short, is the tuft under 
the right rim of his hat. All the rest of him is a mere 
pendulum, vibrating from this axis. As he walks along, he 
hardly feels that any other part of him is in existence, be 
sides that. But he feels his tuft most intensely. Thought, 
feeling, every thing, lies concentrated in that : head, body, 
and limbs, are all alike mere members devolved from it. 
If you were to cut off the side-bunch of a modern beau in 
his sleep, he would, for the time, be utterly ruined. It 
would be like the polypus, deprived of every thing but a 
single leg ; and he would require several months of dor 
mant existence that is, retirement from the streets to 
let the better part of him grow out again from the worse, 
which had remained behind. Let not the demure Puritan, 
however, think that the joke lies all against the gay Cavalier 
or beau. There may be as much of the sin of cultivation in 
the stroked and glossy hair of the Roundhead or plain man, 
as in the love-locks and bunches of their antipodes in sen 
timent. I have seen some men, who affected to be very 
unaffected, cultivate a peak on the top and centre of their 
brows as sedulously, and with as much inward gratulation 
on account of it, as ever I saw a dandy cultivate a tuft, or 
train a side-curl. It must be understood that there are 
cultivations of a negative character, as well as of a posi 
tive, and he who is guiltless of cultivation in his heart is 
alone guiltless. Next to curls stand whiskers. What a 



154 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

field of cultivation have we there ! The whisker is a 
bounty of nature, which man does not like to refuse taking 
advantage of. The thing presses upon him it is there ; 
and to put it altogether aside, except upon the demand of 
temporary fashion, is scarcely to be thought of. Some 
men, however, are more able to resist the demon of whis 
kers than others. There are some men so prone to the 
temptations of this fiend, that they enlarge and enlarge 
their field of cultivation, by small and imperceptible de 
grees, till at length the whole chin falls a prey, excepting, 
perhaps, a small bit about the mouth, just enough to pre 
serve the cultivator within the pale of the Christian church. 
Sometimes the Whisker Fiend makes an insidious advance 
or sally up towards the corners of the mouth ; and there 
. in those small creeks or promontories does the sin of 
cultivation invariably flourish more proud and rampant than 
any where else. The whisker of the cheek is a broad, 
honest, candid, downright cultivation, but that down 
about the corners of the mouth is a sly and most impish 
one a little pet sin, apt to beset its cultivator in a far less 
resistible fashion than any other ; and it may indeed be 
said, that he who has given himself fairly up to this crime 
is almost beyond redemption. 

There are some men who cultivate white hands, with 
long fair nails. For nothing else do they care very par 
ticularly all is well, if only their hands be neat. There 
is even a ridiculous notion that elegant hands are the most 
unequivocal test of what is called good birth. I can say, 
for my own part, that the finest hands I ever saw belonged 
to a woman who kept a butcher's shop in Musselburgh. 
So much for the nonsense about fine hands. Then there 
is a set of people who cultivate a ring on a particular finger 
evidently regretting, from their manner of managing it, 
that the South Sea fashion of wearing such ornaments 
in the nose has not ever come into this country. Some 
men cultivate neat ebony canes with golden heads, which, 
they tell you, cost a guinea. Some cultivate a lisp. A 



CULTIVATIONS. 155 

few, who fall under the denomination of stout gentlemen, 
rejoice in a respectable swell of the haunch, with three 
wrinkles of the coat lying upon it in majestic repose. 
Some cultivate a neckcloth some a shirt-breast some a 
jewelled pin, with a lesser pin at a little distance, which 
serves to it as a kind of anchor. There has also of late 
been a great fashion of cultivating chains about the waist 
coat. Some only show about two inches of a gold or sil 
ver one between the buttons and the pocket ; others, less 
modest, have themselves almost laced round and round 
with this kind of tracery. There is also to be detected, 
occasionally, a small patch of cultivation in the shape of a 
curious watch-key or seal, which depends from part of the 
chain, and is evidently a great pet. A not uncommon 
subject of cultivation is a gold watch. 

There is a class who cultivate silk umbrellas. It is a pre 
valent idea among many men that a silk umbrella is an exceed- 
dingly genteel thing. They therefore have an article of this 
kind, which they are always carrying in a neat careful man 
ner, so as to show that it is silk. They seem to feel as if they 
thought all right when they have their silk umbrella in their 
hand : it is a kind of patent of respectability. With a silk 
umbrella they could meet the highest personages in the land, 
and not be abashed. A silk umbrella is, indeed, a thing 
of such vast effect, that they would be content to go in 
humble guise in every other respect, provided they only 
had this saving clause to protect them. Nay, it is not too 
much to suppose them entertaining this belief, that five- 
and-twenty shillings put forth on a good silk umbrella pro 
duces as much value in dignity as five pounds spent upon 
good broadcloth. How some men do fondle and culti 
vate silk umbrellas ! 

There is a species of cultivators who may in some cases 
be very respectable, and entitled to our forbearance, but 
are, in others, worthy of a little ridicule. I mean the health- 
seekers ; the men who go out at five in the morning to 
cultivate an appetite, and regularly chill every sharp-set 



156 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

evening party they attend, by sitting like Melancholy retired, 
ostentatiously insisting that they " never take supper." 
When a health-seeker takes a walk, he keeps his coat wide 
open, his vest half open seems, in short, to woo the con 
tact of the air and evidently regrets very much that he 
cannot enjoy it in the manner of a bath. As he proceeds, 
he consumes air, as a steam-boat consumes coal ; insomuch 
that, when he leaves the place, you would actually think the 
atmosphere has a fatigued and exhausted look, as if the whole 
oxygen had been absorbed to supply his individual neces 
sities. Wherever this man goes, the wind rises behind 
him, by reason of the vacuum which he has produced. He 
puffs, pants, fights, strives, struggles for health. When 
he returns from his morning walk, he first looks in the glass 
to congratulate himself on the bloom which he has been 
cultivating in his cheek, and thereafter sits down to solace 
the appetite which he finds he has nursed into a kind of 
fury. At any ordinary time, he could spring from his bed at 
nine o'clock, and devour four cups of tea, with bread, ham, 
eggs, and haddocks, beyond reckoning. But he thinks it 
necessary to walk four hours, for the purpose of enabling 
himself to take eight cups, and a still more unconscionable 
proportion of bread, ham, eggs, and haddocks. He may be 
compared, in some measure, to the fat oxen which are 
sometimes shown about as wonders, though apparently 
there is nothing less wonderful, the obvious natural means 
being taken. These oxen, if left to themselves in a good 
park, would become very respectable oxen a little en-bon- 
point, perhaps, but no more. But, being treated otherwise, 
they are rendered unnecessarily fat and unwieldy ; and so it 
is with the appetite of the health cultivator. 

CULTIVATIONS, it will thus be observed, is a subject of 
vast extent, and of great importance, not only to the 
landed interest, but to all the other interests of the country. 
I should be glad to treat it at full length in a separate vo 
lume, for which, I doubt not, ample materials might be 
found. But I must content myself with giving it in the 



FITS OF THRIFT. 157 

meantime only a kind of topping, as the farmers say ; and 
perhaps I may return to it next harvest. 



FITS OF THRIFT. 

NOTHING is more common in the middle ranks of life than 
to find housewives taking what may be called^/.? of thrift. 
Though sensible women in their way, excellent advisers 
and charming gossips, and though by no means spenders 
on a great scale, they have no enduring principle of eco 
nomy, but are only frugal by fits and starts. They take 
qualms of thriftiness now and then sometimes from read 
ing a string of plausible receipts for cookery on a cheap 
scale, or from being struck with the excellent arrangements 
in the household of a friend, who tells her that, by managing 
in such and such a manner, salting all her own beef, and 
making all her own preserves, she has, one way and an 
other, saved a good deal of money, which is really a thing 
of some consequence in these bad times, when so little is 
coming in. This chronic frugality is common to single 
ladies, under as well as above one-and-twenty, and to 
married ladies with large families. The fits have different 
tendencies, although the prevailing symptoms are the same. 
Occasionally the furor seizes one single young lady in a 
family of sisters ; and I have seen that it comes on most 
commonly in the spring. In such cases the disease per 
haps takes the direction of butter and eggs. Some day 
about the month of April or May, and when breakfast is on 
the table, the young lady begins to make observations on 
the dearth and rancidity of the butter. " I declare for my 
part," says she, " we have been poisoned for the last six 
months with that stuff that we get from the woman wlio 
keeps the little shop in the area on the opposite side of the 
street , You know it was only out of pity to her when her 



158 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

husband was burnt to death at the distillery, that we said 
that we would take some small things from her ; but you 
see she does not keep wholesome articles ; and really, in 
my opinion, it is high time we were looking about for some 
thing we can trust to." With this sort of discourse the 
young notable opens the plan of her campaign. She says 
she is resolved to rise every morning at seven, and go with 
a basket herself to the market. The mornings, she says, 
are now greatly lengthened out, and, besides saving a penny 
a pound on the butter, and getting a better article, she is 
confident the walk will prove of great benefit to her health. 
It may always be observed, that the husband, father, or 
elder brother of the notable, never makes any objections 
when such schemes of saving are propounded. They know 
intuitively that the whole is a delusion, which will work it 
self off in a week or two ; that the same disease has visited 
the family once every year about the same period ever 
since they can recollect, and that it will now, as formerly, 
only furnish a little harmless temporary excitement in the 
house. Armed with a negative approval from these rela 
tions, together with a pound note, the young notable starts 
next Saturday morning between seven and eight o'clock ; 
and after taking half an hour to array herself in an undress, 
studiously selecting for the occasion a shabbyish shawl, 
and a pair of shoes that she puts on, only on " bad days," 
also a straw bonnet faded both in the material and ip the 
riband, she sallies forth with her basket to the market. 
With what an air of knowingness she goes from cart to 
cart, examining, and tasting, and smelling their contents ! 
How she tries to elicit, by cross-questioning the man in 
the sky-blue coat, or the blowsky girl in the dimity head 
gear, sitting amidst their savoury boxes with leather hinges, 
every particular in the history of the butter ; where and 
when it was made, and why it happens to be up this morn 
ing, and so forth. How she wanders amidst the egg women, 
holding up the eggs between her and the light, asking if 
they be sure they are not Orkney eggs, and what their 



FITS OF THRIFT. 159 

probable age may be ? What with toiling up and down 
the market for three quarters of an hour, and beating down 
the prices in a most exemplary manner, she at last accom 
plishes her purchases, and brings home her cargo of native 
produce. When you come down to breakfast, you will be 
at once reminded of what has been going on, by the air of 
superiority and triumph assumed by Miss Notable. She 
thinks that by rising an hour sooner than any body else, 
and saving, as she thinks, the sum of twopence, she has 
purchased the character of a thrifty personage, and, con 
sequently, is entitled to look down upon the whole house. 
There is no end to her account of how she managed to find 
out the best butter in the cart, and how she higgled the 
man out of a halfpenny in the pound. When she places 
a slice of this extraordinary butter before you, she takes 
care to show you how fresh the colour is, and waits with 
impatience to hear your expected, and not to be dispensed 
with, praise of its taste. The butter she has bought is, in 
fact, her pet for the whole week. She considers it as her 
butter : and if any visitor slight it, by not paying it the 
necessary compliments, he is of course not indebted to her 
for any future invitation to the house. 

A fit of thrift of this nature lasts generally three or four 
weeks, seldom more. I have seen it continue a fortnight 
in tolerable strength ; it then declines, and wears off to 
wards the fourth Saturday. The decline of this household 
disease is as amusing in its way as its increase. The young 
lady begins to find, that, so far from improving her health 
or strength by such morning exercise, she only " makes 
herself out," and is unfit to do any thing else the whole 
day. And then it is, after all, only to save a few halfpence^ 
She also finds that her purchases do not always turn well 
out, and that she cannot coax her father, or the rest of 
them, to be perpetual admirers of her butter and eggs. As 
a get-off, she commences an eulogy on her butter, which, 
she says, is sold by a man in Rose Street a person who 
was once a farmer, but was reduced by misfortunes to open a 



160 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

small shop in the town, and sell dairy produce. This man 
she says, is experienced in butter, and imports every week 
as much as will serve a dozen families. She has made inte 
rest with him through the servant to be counted one of his 
regular customers, and he will supply the family at all times 
exactly at the market price, not a farthing more. This new 
plan helps greatly as a solace to the conscience in abandon 
ing her morning airings with her basket and dishabille ; and 
so she gradually subsides into the ordinary routine of do 
mestic arrangements. 

The married notable is subject to fits of thrift in a greater 
or less degree about the months of October and Novem 
ber. Some day at dinner, when there happens to be rather 
a poorish leg of lamb on the table, and not much else, she 
opens her attack by saying, in a peevishly authoritative 
manner, that really the family has been long enough on 
fresh meat ; that, for her part, the lamb that they have 
had so often does not agree with her, and that she would 
rather prefer a good salt herring. " Mrs Lockhart has 
just been telling me that the doctor has advised them to 
eat twice or thrice a-week a piece of salt meat that is to 
say, a piece of beef newly powdered, just the fresh taste 
off' it, and hardly having the appearance of the saltpetre at 
the bone ; and I do think that we cannot do better than 
just follow such a sensible man's advice, and get two or 
three pieces next Wednesday for salting you know it will 
be a great saving of money." The drift of all this is, that 
the husband shall forthwith exhibit on the table a couple 
of twenty shilling notes ; but as he knows that these handy 
pieces of paper are sometimes not very easily got, he per 
haps tries to throw an obstacle or two in the way of the 
salting project, and, for instance, mentions that his wife has 
no convenience for curing beef. " You observe," says he, 
" it requires a tub, or something of that sort, and, besides, 
there is a great knack in curing the meat thoroughly ; and 
if you do not take care, you will spoil the whole." As a 
matter of course, these or similar observations cannot hold 



FITS OF THRIFT. 161 

good in the face of a wife under a fit of thrift. All you 
can say is borne down, and the money is at length con 
signed with a groan to the steel purse of the good lady, 
who, next day for she is in the fidgets till her purpose is 
executed sets out in her muff and shawl (the first time for 
the season) on an expedition, first to lay in her beef, and 
then to buy a sufficient and commodious salting can. Well, 
the can, that darling object of a notable's ambition, is pur 
chased. The beef is salted ; and the goodman and his 
family are shortly put on salt meat, whether they like such 
fare or otherwise. The thrifty lady all this time takes 
care, on every occasion, to show off her beef as well worthy 
of being tasted by visitors ; and the short and long of it is, 
that the said beef is eaten up in half the time it is ex 
pected to last ; fresh meat begins to 'show itself more 
frequently at your table, and the fit is put aside till another 
opportunity occurs of playing it off. 

These are very ordinary instances of fits of thrift, but 
there are hundreds of the same description which I could 
mention. Sometimes the fit takes the direction of a new 
gown for going out with on bad days, to save others of a 
better sort ; at another time it is " a house gown," as "really 
my best black silk one is absolutely getting wasted with 
having to go so often into the kitchen." Occasionally it is 
the hiring of two maid-servants, "so that the washings 
need not any longer be given out ;" at other times it is the 
buying of a crumb-cloth, to save the carpet, or the pur 
chasing of loads of old china and crockery at auctions. I 
have seen all the ladies in the house manifest this frenzy 
by working their own lace, or painting pictures which had 
to be hung in dear gilded frames. Again, I have noticed 
it in great vigour in a family in town resolving to have a 
garden, so as to grow their own vegetables. It comes on 
very frequently in a desire to dye old ribands, or feathers, 
or "dress" shawls ; in which case the lady who is affected 
sets out on a voyage of discovery through all the obscure 
courts and alleys about the town, seeking for some old 



162 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

woman whom they have heard of as being " the best" at 
these processes of renovation. It may be remarked, that 
the fit visits the nation, like an epidemic, towards the end 
of July. Almost every house in the kingdom is then thrown 
into an uproar by the ladies, young and old, confederating 
to manufacture gooseberry jam or currant jelly. Such a 
requisition is there then in all quarters for "brass pans," 
and such a deal of money is spent in this popular confec 
tionary ! At the approach and during the continuance of 
the epidemic, the husbands very wisely make no remon 
strance, well knowing that such would be utterly thrown 
away. " You know, my dear," would say the thrifty spouse, 
"we shall require at least two dozen pints this season ; for 
nothing is more useful in a house, in case of colds ; and 
you will remember how much good a spoonful or two did 
little George last February, when we thought he was going 
to take the fever ; indeed, the doctor said it had been the 
very saving of his life." Nothing, of course, can withstand 
an appeal to such authority ; so the money is disbursed 
for the purchase of the fruit and other materials, although 
the goodman never can exactly see how some pounds' 
worth of jelly should be laid up in store, all for the sake 
of needing two tea-spoonfuls. 

Sometimes the family is so unfortunate as to get an oven, 
and a particularly economical Miss undertakes to bake what 
is called family bread. A great saving is expected from 
this source ; but it soon turns out that so much of the 
article is given away to friends, as a kind of curiosity, or to 
impress them with a sense of the economy practised in the 
house, that a great deal more is lost than gained by the 
novelty. In fact, it always turns out, as in the case of the 
Vicar of Wakefield and his thrice notable spouse, that 
these chronic economists are not observed to make their 
husbands any richer by their contrivances, so much is lost 
Ify the expense of the experiment, compared with what is 
gained by the short duration of the practice. 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 163 

SUSAN HAMILTON, 

A TALE OF VILLAGE LIFE. 

THE village of Daldaff lay in a nook of the hills, in one of 
the most rural districts of Scotland. Far from any of the 
great thoroughfares, or any of the large manufacturing 
towns, it continued, down even to the beginning of the pre 
sent century, to be one of the most entire specimens in 
existence of all that a Scotch village used to be. Its situa 
tion was a deep hollow, upon the banks of a mountain 
stream, and it looked from some points of view as if a par 
cel of children's toy-houses had been shaken promiscuously 
in a bowl, and suddenly fixed in the way they happened to 
arrange themselves at the bottom. It was all a confused 
mixture of gray old walls and brown thatch, with green 
gardens, and arbours, and mountain-ash trees. When 
you looked down from any of the surrounding heights, you 
wondered how communication was carried on amongst 
neighbours, or how strangers found an entrance into the 
village ; for you saw no trace of streets, paths, or ways. 
It was only when you descended into the place, that you 
saw here and there a narrow road threading its way among 
the houses, somewhat after the manner of the puzzle called 
the walls of Troy. Most of the little dwellings had a long 
stripe of garden, running from behind them up the hill ; 
other houses had their sides or backs placed close against 
the bank, so that you might have walked off the ground 
upon their roofs without perceiving it while the gardens 
spread downwards before them, like aprons. These gar 
dens bore large beds of refulgent cabbages, with gooseberry 
bushes between ; and always in some sunny and sheltered 
place there were a few bee-hives, the tops of which were 
kept warm either with a crown of straw or a mantle of turf. 
At morning hour you would have seen the honest weavers, 
who peopled most of the houses, busying themselves in 



164 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

delving and dibbling in these little patches of ground. 
During the long day, perhaps nothing of life was to be seen 
about them, except the circumspect and decent hen walk 
ing up the avenue with her chirping brood, or the cock 
flapping his wings from the top of the wall, and crowing a 
defiance to some distant foe of his own kind : or the bees, 
as they one by one made themselves visible out of the 
universal sunniness, in the immediate shadow of the hive. 
At night, however, the weaver would be seen walking forth 
with his pipe in his mouth, his Kilmarnock cowl brushed 
back from his forehead, and his clothes loose at the knees, 
to observe the growth of the berries, or pull a bunch of 
lily-oak for his children, who came prattling behind him ; 
or to hold converse through the evening stillness with a 
neighbour perhaps four gardens off, respecting the last pro 
ceedings of " that dreedfu' fallow, Bonyparty." When 
standing in the centre of the village, you might have almost 
been persuaded that there was no other place in the world. 
The rim of the horizon was within two hundred yards of 
the eye all round, and nothing besides was to be seen but 
the contracted sky. On the top of the bank, in one direc 
tion, stood the church, with its little docked steeple, and its 
N body-guard of old trees. In another direction there was a 

| ! peep of the turrets of an old half-ruined mansion-house, 
which had not been occupied for many years, except by the 
spirit of a murdered man, which was understood to occupy 
a particular room, and always went by the horribly descrip 
tive name of Spotty. Beyond the edge of the surrounding 
banks, the country swept downwards in extensive flats, 
generally sterile, but here and there showing fine spots of 
pastoral green. Over these downs, groups of children 
would sometimes be seen rambling hand in hand, in those 
adventurous journeys of half a mile from home, which chil 
dren are so fond of taking; sometimes talking to each other 
of the novelties of the created world, which were every 
now and then striking their eyes and their imaginations ; 
at other times pondering in silent and infantine abstraction 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 165 

on the beauty of the gowans which grew by their sides, 
and in the bosoms of which, as they gazed into them, they 
saw, reflected as in a mirror, their own fairness and inno 
cence. There, also, while the wind even of summer carried 
its chill, the little neat-herd boy would be seen sitting on the 
leeward side of the green knoll, with his sister by his side, 
and a plaid drawn all around them, their arms laced round" 
each other's necks, and their cheeks laid close together, as 
both read from the same tattered storybook, or partook of 
the same pease-bread and milk, which served as their after 
noon meal. Within the village all was primeval simplicity. 
The houses already mentioned were arranged without the 
least regard to each other's convenience some back to 
back, some shoulder to shoulder, but as generally front to 
back, and shoulder to front. The white manse sat half 
way up the bank, overlooking the whole, like an idol pre 
siding over a crowded group of worshippers. On what 
might be considered the principal thoroughfare in the vil 
lage, stood the inn, a house distinguished from all the rest, 
by its being two stories in height, not to speak of the still 
more remarkable distinction of a hanging sign, on which was 
painted something dark and grim, meant for a black bull, 
besides the frequent apparition of a carrier's cart resting 
with its beams high and rampant into the air. Another 
house, rather better than the rest, was occupied by " a 
merchant," a man originally a haberdashery pedlar, but 
who, having here at last set up his ellwand of rest, dealt 
not only in women's attire, but in a thousand things else 
besides, as if he had been 

" Not one, but all shopkeeper? epitome." 

Then there was the modest tenement of Luckie Smytrie, 
with its window of four panes, showing to the passing 
traveller two biscuits on edge, and as many dark green 
bottles filled with comfits ; while within, if you had chosen 
to enter, you would have found at one end of the room in 
which the decent woman lived, a large cupboard and a 
small table forming her mercantile establishment for the 



166 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

sale of all kinds of small wares. Were you to lounge a 
little in this humble retreat of commerce, you might see 
children coming in every now and then asking for such 
things as an ounce of soap, a quarter of an ounce of tea, 
a halfpenny- worth of whipcord, or, perhaps (what would 
astonish you most of all), change of a penny viz. two 
halfpence. Luckie Smytrie was a woman who had ex 
perienced great trials in early life, had had husbands killed 
by accidents, sons enlisted for soldiers and slain in battle, 
and daughters that died in the morn and liquid dew of youth, 
innumerable. Her shop was therefore patronised by all 
the villagers, to the prejudice, in some articles, of the more 
ambitious establishment of the retired packman ; but yet 
the old woman, like all shopkeepers who have little rivalry, 
was as much offended at losing any partial or occasional 
custom in favour of that individual, as if she had had a far 
stronger and more prescriptive right to the business of the 
place. For instance, you might see a boy come in with a 
small cotton handkerchief in his hand, and say that his 
mother had sent him for a halfpenny-worth of thread, 
matching with that piece of attire, which she wished to 
hem. To which Mrs Smytrie would respond, in a cool 
yoice, but intended to convey the most cutting sarcasm, 
" Gang back, hinny, and tell your mother that it would bef 
far better to get her thread where she got her napkin." 
Or, perhaps, it was an order for bread on a Sun day evening, 
from some one who had had an unexpected crowd of visitors 
at tea. The request was then put in the following terms : 
" Mrs Smytrie [on other occasions it was plain Tibbie], 
my mother has her compliments t'ye, and she wad be 
muckle obleeged for twa tippeny bricks (loaves), as there's 
some folk come upon her to their four-hours that she didna 
expeck." To the which Mrs Smytrie would answer, in 
the same cruelly tranquil voice, " Tell your mother, my 
woman, that she had better get her bread on the Sabbath 
night where she gets 't on the Saturday 't e'en," well know 
ing all the while that the shop referred to was not open, 
and that there was no other besides her own in the whole 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 167 

village, or within ten miles round. Perhaps a child would 
come in for a halfpenny- worth of paper, namely, writing- 
paper ; but Mrs Smytrie, mistaking the word, would set 
about the elaborate ceremony of weighing out what she 
supposed the required quantity of pepper. The boy would 
look on, not knowing what to think of it, till at last he was 
roused from his reverie by having a neat little conical 
parcel, with a twist at the point, presented to him instead 
of the roll of paper which he had expected. He would 
then murmur out, with a ludicrous mixture of stupidity and 
terror, " It was paper I was wanting ;" at which the old 
widow would break out with the anticipated torrent of in 
vective, " Hech ! dyted thing, could ye no speak plainer? 
What for did ye let me be makin' up the pepper for ye, 
and no tell me it was paper? Niff-naffin !" There was 
hardly any other house in the village in the least distin 
guished from its fellows. The most of them were occupied 
by a race of decent weavers for this, indeed, was the 
staple employment of Daldaff. Through almost every 
lattice you heard the constant sound of the shuttle and lay, 
mixed with the voices of the honest operatives, as they sung 
at their work. In a preceding age, the village contained 
only three or four of this class of men, who employed them 
selves in weaving the homely woollen cloth and sheeting 
which were then used by the country people, being formed 
out of materials supplied immediately by themselves. But 
these kinds of manufacture had, in a great measure, given 
way in favour of the lighter fabrics of Glasgow. Cottons 
were now supplied from that immense mart, to be woven 
into showy webs ; and as the trade offered far superior 
remuneration to what had ever been known in the village, 
not only the old serge-weavers had changed the one employ 
ment for the other, but a vast flock of their sons and con 
nexions, and many of the country people around, had rushed 
into it, so that the primitive little village of Daldaff became 
neither more nor less than a kind of colony or dependency 
of the great western capital. 



168 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

This revolution was at first productive of a great increase 
of comfort in the village, without materially altering the 
primeval virtues of its inhabitants. Old men began to lay 
by blue bonnets in favour of hats. A few old hereditary 
black coats, which had been worn from youth to age, were 
at last rescued from the twilight of a Sabbath fame, and con 
signed ungrudgingly to a general use throughout the week. 
Young men began to abandon hodden gray for Galashiels 
blue ; young women got straw bonnets to cover locks here 
tofore exposed in cockernonnies, and there were two if not 
three green gauze veils in the village. In respect of do 
mestic economy, almost every housewife had the pot on 
three times a-week, so that third day's kail was beginning 
to be a thing almost unknown. Tea was also intruding its 
outlandish face into scenes where bread and milk was erst 
the only luxury. Some of the husbands held long out 
against it, but at length they almost all sneaked into a liking 
for it, and no more thought of wanting it at the end of their 
day's work, than they thought of wanting their halesome 
porridge at the beginning. It was sometimes lamented by 
the excellent old minister, that family worship was a usage 
not favoured by this change of circumstances ; but still, 
both at nine in the morning, and about the same hour in 
the evening, you might have heard, in passing some of the 
houses, either the rude and tremulous psalmody raised by 
the father of the household, or the low and earnest prayer 
which he was pouring forth, with his knees and those of 
all his family resting upon his clay floor. Then all the good 
old sports were kept up. The boys, instead of being con 
fined, like those of larger manufacturing towns, in unhealthy 
cotton mills, were permitted at all hours, except those du- 
f ring which they were engaged at school, to play at the golf 
I and shinty, or at bows and arrows, upon the common haugh 
| by the burn side, or else to roam farther a-field in search 
of birds' nests, or to harry the crows in the woods. On 
i the same haugh, in the summer evenings, after work was 
I done, the young men would be seen " putting the stane," 



SUSAN HAMILTON 169 

or playing at " the pennystanes" (quoits), or perhaps amus 
ing themselves with the more energetic game of football, 
while their cowled fathers would walk forth to sympathise 
in and judge of their feats, and enjoy a hearty unmeasured 
laugh at every unharming " mischanter" which might befall 
them. Thither also would repair The trig shortgowned 
lass, just newly " redd up," as she would style it, her curls 
shining in their recent release from paper, over a face to 
which a good washing had lent a richer glow, and her tout- 
ensemble in every respect greatly improved as female figures , 
somehow or other, always are by being seen in the de 
clining light of the golden eve. There, while the young 
of the different sexes interchanged their joke and their gibe, 
and the old raised the still heartier laugh at every feat in the 
game, and children shouted and dogs barked from the mere 
contagion of joy, while, moreover, the sun sent his last rich 
rays through the trees above the village, whence the 

" Sweet mellow crush of the wood-pigeon's note, 

Made music that sweetened the calm ;" 

there a stranger might have supposed that happiness had 
found her last abode on earth, ere for ever winging her * 
flight to her native skies. iJ M *- **r*TF*' }*****? T 9 
Many villages in Scotland enjoy a humble local fame for' '*%' 
some particular custom or sport, which is understood to" y e 
reign there in supremacy over all others. If Daldaff was * * 
celebrated for any form of fun more than another, it was ^ 
for curling a sport peculiar to Scotland, and which may 
be best described to southern readers, by the simple state 
ment, that it employs large smooth stones upon the ice, 
much after the manner of bowls upon a bowling-green. 
The game can only be practised after a very hard frost, as 
it requires the strongest ice to bear the numbers who usually 
assemble either to play or look on. Curling is a game 
relished so keenly in Scotland, that, like other common 
appetites, it levels all distinctions of station and rank. In 
a rural and thinly-peopled district like that around Daldaff, 
the laird might be seen mingling with not only his farmers, 



170 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

but his cottagers, interchanging the broad jest at his own 
failures, and giving applause wherever it was due. The 
minister might also be seen driving his stone with as much 
anxiety of eye as any one, and occasionally, perhaps, envy 
ing the good fortune of an unlettered peasant, whom, on 
another occasion, he would have to chide for his backward 
ness in the Single Catechism. DaldafF was fortunately 
situated for this game, as, less than a mile below the village, 
the mountain stream spread out into a little lake sufficient 
to have afforded room for half a dozen " rinks." There 
one Saturday afternoon the people of Daldaff had a bonspiel, 
or grand contest, with the inhabitants of the adjacent parish 
of Sarkinholm, who had long disputed with them the palm 
of superiority. A bonspiel is not appointed to take place 
every day ; neither is Saturday like any other day of the 
week. Hence, although an unfortunate thaw was just 
commencing, the disputants resolved to have out their 
game, trusting that the ice would at least last long enough 
to do their turn. Notwithstanding the unfavourable state 
of the ice, the bonspiel passed off with great eclat. Nearly 
all Daldaff and Sarkinholm were collected to witness the 
sport ; and the certaminis gaudia, or joys of the combat, 
were felt perhaps as keenly in the hearts of the women and 
children of these respective places, as in those of the curlers 
themselves. Before the game was done, the men were 
standing inch deep in water, and the stones, as they came 
up to the rink, sent the spray high into the air before them, 
like shavings from a joiner's plane. The short day of Ja 
nuary was also drawing very near to a close, and a deep 
dark cloud had settled down upon the mountains to the 
west, betokening a thorough change in the weather. At 
length victory declared itself in favour of Daldaff, and the 
parties " quat their roaring play," to betake themselves to 
their respective homes. All in a short time had left the 
place, except a small band of boys and girls, who continued 
to enjoy a pair of slides on a somewhat higher and drier 
part of the ice. 

The rivulet connected with this little lake was one of 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 171 

those which, rising in a large basin of hilly country, are 
liable to be swelled occasionally in a very short space of 
time, so that, though at one hour they may scarcely show 
a rill among the channel-stones, they are the next raging 
like a large and impetuous river. On the present occasion, 
being fed by the cloud just spoken of, it came down in one 
of its most awful forms, and in one instant broke up the 
ice upon the peaceful lake with a noise like thunder. The 
children who had been sliding, though they scarcely had a 
moment of warning, escaped from the ice all except one, 
Susan Hamilton, the daughter of the leading manufacturer 
in the village. She had been the last to approach a gulf 
which had been leaped by all the rest, and, her heart fail 
ing her at the moment, she was immediately carried off 
from the land upon a large board of ice. What had lately 
been the solid surface of the lake was now gathered in a 
large glacier of peaky fragments at the bottom, while all 
around the water was extending far beyond its usual limits. 
Susan Hamilton was soon drifted down to this mass of ice, 
where, from the top of a lofty pinnacle, she cried loudly 
for help, which, however, was every moment becoming 
more difficult to be rendered. The most of her compa 
nions had fled in childish terror to the village ; but as the 
danger was instant, there seemed little chance of rescue 
from that quarter. Fortunately a young man who had 
accompanied some friends to Sarkinholm happened to be 
returning to Daldaff, and, hearing cries of distress, rushed 
up to the spot. Though the twilight was now deepening, 
he perceived the situation of the child, and being perfectly 
acquainted with the ground, he immediately resolved upon a 
plan of rescue. A large board of ice happened to be lying in 
a creek near the place where he stood. Upon this he fear 
lessly embarked, and, guiding it by means of his curling-brush, 
he soon reached the iceberg to which Susan Hamilton was 
clinging. Having prevailed upon her to leap down into 
his arms, he placed her carefully on board his icy raft, and 
then steered back towards the shore, where by this time 



172 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

a few of the villagers, including the child's father, were 
collected. He was so fortunate as to return in safety, and 
had the satisfaction which Bishop Burnet considered to 
be the greatest on earth of rendering a man truly happy. 
The joy of the father was speechless ; but the other villagers 
raised a shout of admiration in honour of his heroic con 
duct. Nor was the general feeling abated, when, imme 
diately after he had regained the shore, the vast glacier, 
loosed from its confinement at the bottom of the lake, was 
precipitated down the channel of the stream, where it tum 
bled and dashed along with the resistless force of rocks 
thrown down a hill-side, and the noise of a hurricane in a 
forest. It was seen that if he had hesitated but for a mi 
nute to adventure upon his perilous task, the child must 
have perished, almost before her father's eyes. 

James Hamilton, who had this evening experienced the 
opposites of extreme agony and extreme happiness, was 
only a mere long-headed specimen of the weavers of Dal- 
daff. Having saved a little money, and acquired a repu 
tation for prudence and honesty, he had been able, when 
the Glasgow work was first introduced into the village, to 
get himself appointed by a manufacturing house in that city 
as agent for supplying employment to his brethren ; and as 
he not only enjoyed a commission upon the labours of his 
neighbours, but also kept a number of looms going upon 
his own account, he might be considered the most pros 
perous man in the village. He had been married for many 
years, but was blessed with only one child, the fair young 
girl who was rescued from death in the manner above 
described. He was one of those individuals, who, though 
entitled to praise for their correct dealings and sagacious 
conduct in life, are yet apt to excite dislike by their con 
tenting themselves too exclusively with those properties, 
and not showing enough of the amenity and friendliness 
of disposition, by which alone society at large is rendered 
agreeable. You could always make sure that James 
Hamilton would do you no wrong, but you were also im- 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 173 

pressed with the certainty that neither would he do you 
any good ; and if it be possible that there can be an 
excess of circumspection and prudence, he erred in that 
excess. Rarely giving way to feeling himself, he could 
hardly believe that it existed in others, or, if he did ac 
knowledge its existence, he despised it as only the symptom 
of an unworldly character. Even on seeing a single and 
beloved child rescued from destruction, though he could 
not repress the first gush of grateful and joyful emotion, he 
almost immediately after relapsed into his usual coldness, 
and seemed to chide himself for having been betrayed into 
that excitement. 

Adam Cuthbertson, who had done for him almost the 
greatest service that one man could do to another, was the 
son of a poor widow in Sarkinholm, and now resided with 
a relation at Daldaff, under whom he was acquiring the 
universal craft of the district. Though graced with only 
a very limited education, and condemned to almost un 
ceasing toil, Adam was a youth of some spirit and ingenuity. 
An old black buJce of Scotch songs lay constantly on the 
beam at his left hand, and the rush of the shuttle and the 
dunt of the lay went in unison with as clear a pipe as ever 
lilted up the notes of our national minstrelsy. It was even 
whispered that Adam had himself composed a few songs, 
or there were at least certain ditties which the lasses of 
Daldaff might occasionally be heard singing at their wash 
ings on the haugh, and which were privately attributed to 
his pen though, it is to be remarked, his modesty would 
never permit him to confess the soft impeachment. Adam 
also contrived to obtain some scientific books, which he 
pored over at night by his uncle's fireside, or, in summer, 
beneath a little bower which he had constructed in the 
garden. He was thought to be less steady at his work than 
some duller lads, and the case was not mended by a par 
ticular improvement which he had carried into effect upon 
the machinery of his loom. Although he practically de 
monstrated that he could work more with the same trouble 



174 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

by means of this alteration, the old workmen only shook 
their heads at it, and wished he might work as much with it 
in the long-run. It happened one day, that, as he was dress 
ing his web with the brushes, he lost his balance by mere 
accident, and fell head foremost through the white expanse 
before him, producing, of course, irremediable ruin. "Ay, 
ay," remarked some of the old stagers, " I never thought 
ony gude would come o' thae improvements. Wha ever 
heard o' ony ordinar workman playing sic a plisky ?" Others, 
less disposed to observe the strict doctrines of causation, 
would ask what else could be expected of "that newfangled 
way o' working the hiddles." The very minister, honest 
man, was heard to hazard a quiet witticism on the subject, 
not from any ill-will towards his young parishioner, but just 
because the joke could hardly be avoided : " I was aye ja- 
lousing," said the worthy divine one day to his elder, James 
Hamilton, " that Yedie wad some day or other fa' through 
his wark " It is to be mentioned with regret that Hamil 
ton, notwithstanding his obligations to the young man, was 
one of those who regarded his frank-spirited character and 
forward genius with least favour. This did not appear to 
be solely the result of the opposition of their characters. 
Hamilton, who, in any circumstances, would have been 
sure to disapprove of the qualities manifested by Adam 
Cuthbertson, appeared almost to have contracted an addi 
tional dislike for him, on account of the very obligation 
which ought to have made him his friend. He seemed to 
dread the claims which the rescue of his child might esta 
blish, and acted as if he thought it necessary to give as little 
encouragement to those claims as possible. 

There was, however, one individual who did full justice 
both to the superior character and the gallant achievement 
of Cuthbertson. This was Susan Hamilton, the fair young 
girl whom he had saved. Susan at the time of her rescue 
was too young to regard her deliverer with any other feeling 
th an that of grateful respect. But as she advanced towards 
womanhood, the childish feeling of awe with which she 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 175 

had always beheld him when they chanced to meet, became 
gradually exchanged for a sentiment of a softer and tenderer 
character, though not less bashful and abased. Adam's 
feelings towards her experienced a similar change. Ever 
after the day when he saved her life, he had taken rather 
more interest in that fair head and those sweet blue eyes, 
than in the features of any other child of the same age 
whom he saw tripping to school. But this feeling was 
merely one of circumstances. It solely referred to the 
adventure by which he had been so happy as to restore 
her to the arms of her father. Susan, however, in a very 
few years, ceased to be a little girl tripping to school. Her 
figure became considerably taller, and more attractive. Her 
blue eyes became filled with deeper and more thoughtful 
meanings. Her cheek, when she approached her deliverer, 
assumed a richer hue ; and her voice, when it addressed 
him, surprised him with new tones. Sometimes he would 
hardly permit himself to think that she was in the least dif 
ferent from what she had been. He would still speak to 
her as a man addressing a child. But after they had parted, 
he would feel his soul troubled with a delight he had never 
before experienced. He would feel, though he did not 
think, that she was different. Need any more be said than 
that he in time found himself at once loving and beloved ? 
The sun never set with a richer glow, nor did the flowers 
ever give out a richer perfume, than on the evening, when, 
in the woods of Craigcross, Adam Cuthbertson and Susan 
Hamilton first confessed their mutual attachment. 

But fate was adverse to the passion of these amiable 
beings. James Hamilton, with all his homely wisdom, had 
so far given way to a wretched ambition as to wish his 
daughter to match in a sphere above his own rank. Laird 
Ganderson, of Windigate, had marked out Susan at church 
as a very proper person to undertake the management of 
his household, an office just become vacant in consequence 
of the death of his mother. Being arrived at the full and 
perfect age of forty-seven years, the beauty of the young 



176 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

lady was perhaps a smaller consideration with the laird, 
than the contiguity of a few fields lately purchased by her 
father, to his own somewhat dilapidated property. He 
therefore made some overtures to James Hamilton, which 
that individual listened to in a manner far from unfavour 
able. It was soon made up between them that Susan was 
to become Mrs Ganderson : all that remained to be done 
was to gain the approbation of the young woman herself 
towards the scheme. Susan, who, in addition to many 
better qualities, possessed a gift of rustic humour, endea 
voured to convey her sentiments to the laird in a delicate 
way, by one evening frying him a dish of sliced peats in 
stead of Scotch collops ; but the laird took it all as a good 
joke, and said he only liked her the better for her waggery. 
In fact, being anxious to have her only on the ordinary 
principles of a mercantile speculation, he was not to be 
turned aside by any nice delicacy, any more than he would 
have been prevented from buying a horse at a fair, by the 
animal showing a reluctance to part with its former pro 
prietor. On the other hand, Cuthbertson felt in a manner 
entirely different. A taunt which he received one night 
from the father, respecting the narrowness of his circum 
stances and prospects, determined him to quit Daldaff in 
search of fortune, taking no care but first to interchange 
with Susan a vow of eternal fidelity. 

For one full year Susan was enabled to parry the ad 
dresses of the laird and the entreaties of her father. , The 
former spent a great part of every day at James Hamilton's, 
where he smoked incessantly, or, if he ceased at all, it was 
only to ask for liquor, or to utter a ribald jest. By this 
familiarity he only rendered himself the more intolerable 
to Susan. But it had a different effect upon the father. 
The laird became so thoroughly ingratiated with that in 
dividual, that there was no exertion of friendship which" 
Hamilton would not make in his behalf. In fact, in order 
to secure to his daughter the eclat of being lady of Windi- 
gate, he was understood to have compromised all that he 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 177 

was worth in the world in securities for the behoof of his 
future son-in-law, whose fortune was suspected to be in 
no very nourishing condition. The unfortunate weaver 
exemplified a very common failing in the most sagacious 
characters, namely, a disposition, after a whole lifetime of 
prudence, to give way to some notably ridiculous error, 
which is rendered unalarming to them from its being totally 
different in character and tendency from any that they have 
been accustomed to avoid. 

At length came evil days. Owing to some turn of affairs 
in the progress of the war, cotton- weaving experienced a se 
vere shock, by which many of the best Glasgow houses were 
materially damaged, and thousands of operatives throughout 
the country were thrown out of work. The very respectable 
establishment for which Hamilton had long acted as agent, 
lingered for a time in existence, and was able occasionally 
to send a small scantling of work, hardly enough to employ 
a tenth part of the population of the village. When the 
carrier was expected to come with these small supplies, 
numbers of poor men, attended by their wives and children, 
all of whom were alike unemployed, would go out for miles 
to meet the eagerly expected vehicle, to learn how much 
work was brought, and what prospect there was of more. 
On the small bag being opened by Hamilton, and perhaps 
only three webs being displayed, the grief of the poor peo 
ple was beyond all description. The married men would 
then, by Hamilton's directions, draw lots for those precious 
morsels of employment. While this process went for 
ward, what eager breathless hope in the faces of both men 
and women, tempered, at the same time, by a religious 
sense of the misery which each man knew that his own 
success would inflict upon some equally deserving neigh 
bour ! What despair was depicted in each honest homely 
face, as it turned from the fatal lottery, upon the unhappy 
family group, which, more eagerly than himself, had watched 
the result of his throw ! With what joy, mingled with sad 
sympathies for the rest, would the successful man bear 



178 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

home his load, though he knew that the price of his labour 
would hardly be sufficient to supply the food necessary to 
support him, even though he were to work sixteen hours 
a-day ! At length, towards winter, even these wretchedly 
insufficient supplies were stopped. Hamilton's employers, 
after every effort to keep themselves afloat, were obliged 
to give way also ; and, consequently, the Daldaff agency 
became at once a dead letter. People talk of the exemp 
tion of the present generation from disasters by fire and 
sword, which so frequently befell their ancestors ; but what 
calamity was ever inflicted upon the poor, even in the most 
lawless days of past history, equal to the desolation which 
is now so often occasioned in a large district, by a total 
cessation of the staple employment ? The cots which gave 
shelter to our ancestors, were rebuilt in three days, after 
even the most savage invasion ; the herds, which had been 
gathered off to some place of security, were restored to 
their indestructible pastures. The calamity, if unac 
companied by severe loss of life, must have been only, in 
general, an exciting adventure. But what retreat, what 
consolation is there for the hordes of poor artizans, who, 
by some commercial accident, arising, perhaps, from the 
imprudence of a few merchants, or some political or war 
like movement, are deprived of the customary weekly 
pittance ? It may be relied on, that such disasters exceed 
in measure of sorrow almost any kind of historical distress, 
except those of plague or famine. No other accident but 
these last ever introduced such coldness to the poor man's 
hearth, such despair to his heart, or made him regret with 
so bitter a pang that he had others to care for besides him 
self. 

Amidst the public calamity, one of a most grievous 
nature overtook the father of our heroine. The affairs of 
the laird, which had long been desperately out of order, 
and for some time were only sustained by the aid of his 
intended father-in-law, came to a complete stand-still; 
and, the whole wealth of James Hamilton being engaged 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 179 

in securities, he was at once reduced to the condition in 
which he had entered life. The stroke at first seemed 
likely to be fatal. Thus to lose the whole earnings of a 
laborious life to forfeit, at the eleventh hour, by one 
miserable piece of imprudence, all the honours of the wisely 
spent day, was more, almost, than he could bear. He 
had, however, two comforters in his affliction the worthy 
old minister, who in these calamitous times had been a 
succouring angel to his flock and his daughter, an angel 
of a still more gracious kind, who, forgetting all the severities 
with which she had been treated, and thinking only of his 
present affliction, applied herself to the sacred task of sooth 
ing his wounded mind, and inspiring him with hopes of 
better times. The change of his circumstances produced 
a complete change in the mind of Hamilton. Having no 
longer wealth to care for, the jealous sentinels with which 
he had guarded it were withdrawn. The crust of worldly 
selfishness was broken off his character, and all its better 
affections were again called into free play. His eyes were 
now opened to the wickedness of which he had been guilty, 
in endeavouring to force the affections of his daughter, 
and he only wished that he were again as he had been a 
twelvemonth before, in order to make her happy with the 
man of her heart. 

Weeks of partial famine passed on, and now the dis 
tresses of the villagers were suddenly doubled by the pre 
mature commencement of a very severe winter. With 
the exception of their small patches of potatoes and gar 
den vegetables, there seemed hardly any resource for them 
during the whole winter. The minister, whose own income 
was exhausted in providing for their wants, thought it ne 
cessary, under these distressing circumstances, to call them 
all together, and join them in one solemn exercise of hu 
miliation appropriate to the occasion. Just as this was 
concluded, a boy belonging to an inn about ten miles distant 
upon the Glasgow road, arrived, after a toilsome journey 
through the snow, and gave the joyful news that a cart 



180 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

filled with webs was storm-stayed at his master's house, on 
its way to the village, the trade having suddenly experi 
enced a slight revival. Transported with this intelligence, 
though no one could guess by whom the work could have 
been sent, they one and all resolved to proceed to Red- 
craigs, where the cart was lying, and aid in clearing a way 
for it through the snow. Every spade and semblance of 
a spade was then put in requisition, and the half of the 
bannocks in the village were brought forward, without the 
least regard to individual property, to provision the troop 
of pioneers. Thirty men set out early next morning on 
this expedition, graced with the blessings and prayers of 
all who saw them depart. 

The snow, it was found, had only fallen to the depth of 
three feet, but it was drifted in many hollow parts of the 
road to six times that depth, so as to present an insur 
mountable obstacle to the progress of a cart. At all those 
places the weavers exerted themselves as they advanced 
to clear away the gelid heaps. The toil was most severe ; 
but what these poor starved men wanted in strength, they 
made up by zeal that zeal, above all others, which is in 
spired by the wish of answering the clamour of a hungry 
family circle with the necessary bite. The thought that 
work was before them, that money would again be procured, 
and, for that money, food to supply "the bairns at hame," 
nerved every arm with superhuman energy; and as the 
country people every where lent a willing, though less en 
thusiastic assistance, the party had before mid-day cleared 
their way to Redcraigs. What was their surprise on being 
met there by their friend Adam Cuthbertson, of whom 
they had not heard ever since he left Daldaff, and who 
now informed them, with ineffable pleasure beaming in his 
eyes, that he had been the happy means of procuring them 
this supply of work. He had entered, he said, into the 
service of a manufacturer at Glasgow, and having divulged 
to him a plan of improving the loom, had been advanced 
to a very onerous place of trust in the factory. His em- 



SUSAN HAMILTON. 181 

ployer having weathered on till the present revival of trade, 
he had used the little influence he had, to get his old master, 
of whose misfortunes he had heard, appointed to an agency, 
and was favoured with one of the very first parcels of work 
that was to be had, which he was now conveying to the 
relief of his old friends at Daldaff. " Let us on now, my 
friends," cried Adam; "and, before night is far spent, we 
shall be able to tell the women and the bairns that the bad 
times are now blown by, and that every one will get his por 
ridge and his broth as he used to do." The cavalcade then 
set forward, the cart drawn by three horses in line, and 
every man more ready than another, either to clear away 
the drifted heap that lay before it, or to urge it with his 
desperate shoulder over every such impediment that might 
happen to be left. Though the way was long, and the 
labour severe, and the strength of the poor weavers not 
very great, yet every eye and voice maintained its cheer 
fulness, and the song, the jest, and the merry tale, were 
kept up to the very last. The wintry sun had set upon 
the snowy hills ere the procession came within sight of 
Daldaff; yet all the women and children were collected at 
the Loanbraehead, near the village, to see it approach ; 
and when the cart was first discerned turning a neighbouring 
height, with its large attendant train, a shout of natural 
joy arose through the clear air, such as might burst from 
those who gaze from the shore upon a wreck, and see 
the crew, one by one, make their escape from destruction. 
James Hamilton was there, though much reduced by a 
recent illness ; and the joy which seized him on being in 
formed by the workmen of his appointment, was almost 
too much for his frame. He looked in vain, however, 
for Cuthbertson, to pour before him the thanks of a re 
pentant spirit. That excellent young man had eluded 
the observation of all, and, diving through some of the lanes 
of the village, had taken refuge in the house of his uncle. 
He found that much as he had longed to see gladness 
once more restored to these poor villagers, he could not 



182 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

endure the scene at last. He had therefore escaped from 
their gratitude ; and it was not till Hamilton sought him 
in his old lodgings, that he was at length discovered. The 
old man took him warmly by the hand, which he did not 
quit, till, leading him to his own house, he deposited it in 
that of his fair daughter. " Susan Hamilton," said he, 
" twice have you been saved by this good youth ; you are 
now fairly his own property you are no longer mine. 
May you both be happy !" 



FLITTING DAY. 

OUR readers will perhaps recollect a former article, in 
which we treated of the subject of removals that is to 
say, the practice so general in Scotland (though otherwise 
in England) of shifting almost every year from one house 
to another, in a constant expectation of finding the TO 
KALON, as the Greeks call it, or, as we shall rather style 
it, the QUITE THE THING of house accommodation, which, 
however, is discovered at one year's end to be exactly as 
remote as it was a twelvemonth before, and still, like ge 
neral happiness, is "on before" far looming over the 
horizon, like a vessel bound for some distant part of the 
globe, and not to be caught or overtaken, let us speed after 
it as we may. We have heard various individuals acknow 
ledge that there were some good home truths in that article, 
though we rather believe the housewives in general were 
surprised at our blindness to the beauties of a good back- 
green. Let that be as it may, there was one thing in which 
that article was totally deficient to wit, an account of 
the particular horrors of removing day itself, or, as we in 
Scotland call it, flitting day a day styled in the calendar 
WM^mclay> and dedicated to w^don^ know wjiat sacred _ 
^se^but which, without regard toats sacred jis^whateyer 

~'~~~ 



FLITTING DAY. 183 

thatjnay__be, we think men might wish that, above all 
otherc^jt werejairly blotted jout oFthej^alendar expunged 
from the very year itself utterly annihilated and forgotten, 
because of the unhappy secular use to which it has been 
put from time immemorial. The 25th of May, or Whit 
sunday old style, is indeed a day of peculiar agony amongst 
us. It is a day consecrated to the disruption of all local 
ties, to the rending of every kind of pleasant association, 
to the discomfiture of all the household goods. The very, 
week in which it occurs, is black with its atmosphere of 
pain. 

It may be surprising to persons unacquainted with Scot 
land, that the people should be so fond of removing, since 
the day on which that event takes place is apt to be so 
very disagreeable. They might as well wonder that peo 
ple should ever marry, when they know so very well that 
the charge of a family is apt to be burdensome. Candlemas 
day, on which people take their houses, is a day of heed 
less joy, a day of fond and delirious anticipation ; and 
Whitsunday is to it what execution-day is to the particu 
lar time when an unfortunate man was tempted to enrich 
himself at some other body's expense. " On Wednesday 
I killed my wife, on Saturday I was hanged," as the child's 
rhyme goes : no one can doubt that Wednesday was in 
this case a very pleasant day, whatever might be the state 
of the honest man's feelings at the end of the week. So it 
is with Candlemas and Whitsunday. On the former of 
these days we are actuated by a spirit of spite and dissatis 
faction with our present abode ; it is every thing that is 
disagreeable, and we must at all hazards get quit of it. 
Accordingly, the taking of another, and, as we think, bet 
ter habitation, naturally appears as the opening of a haven 
of relief, and, of course, we have a great deal of either 
positive or negative pleasure in the day. Nor is this satis 
faction confined to the day on which the new house is 
leased : it extends up to the very commencement of that 
week of suffering which involves Whitsunday up to the 



184 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

first material disarrangement of furniture preparatory to 
removal. During the time which elapses between the leasing 
of the new habitation and our removal to it, we abandon 
all care for our present abode. Any thing that goes wrong 
about it must just remain so. If a lock were required for 
the door, we would scarcely put ourselves to the trouble of 
getting it, but remain content with some provisional system 
of security, such as putting a table behind it. A large piece 
of plaster might fall down from the ceiling, or half of the 
floor of the dining-room sink into the kitchen a whole 
gable or side-wall, almost, might fall away, but we would 
never think of troubling ourselves with any attempt at re 
pairs. It is a horrid house at any rate, and, for all the 
time we are to be in it, it does not matter. We'll soon be 
getting into our nice new house, and I'll warrant you no 
plaster will fall down from the ceiling there, nor either floor 
or gable give way. Every thing will be right when we 
get to . Street. The house, under this system of 

feeling, begins to wear a desolate look. Every thing is 
permitted, according to the old Scottish phrase, just to 
hang as it grows. The whole bonds of household disci 
pline are relaxed. The servants, who are to be changed 
too perhaps, as well as the house, begin to do things any 
way, and yet the mistress hardly chides them. The fact 
is, she has given up all idea of comfort in the condemned 
house, and lives entirely on the hope of seeing every thing 
trig in her new abode. She would make no great com 
plaint, as we verily believe, if the servants obliged her by 
their carelessness to spend all the remaining part of the 
lease up to her knees in water. Every thing will be right 
when we get to Street, so we'll just put up with it. 
Every now and then one of the children comes in, like the 
messengers in Macbeth, to tell her of the progress of mis 
chief. One has to mention, ' that a boy throwing stones 
has just broken two panes in the drawing-room window, 
the lower chess having been up at the time. No matter ; all 
will be right when we get to . Street. Another " cream- 



FLITTING DAY. 185 

faced loon" rushes in to say, that the girls in the kitchen 
have just broken down the grate, and snapped the poker 

in two. No matter ; all will be right when we get to 

Street. Nay, it is not too much to suppose that, although 
she were told of the house having just begun to sink into 
the earth, she would take it all with the most philosophic 
coolness, and console herself for every present mishap by a 
reference to the joys which are to be experienced in that 
home of promise. The prospect of a removal, it will be ob 
served, is thus enough even to revolutionise human nature. 
People abandon their most cherished objects of care, and 
disregard that of which they are in general most solicitous, 
under the influence of this prospect. Like the pilgrim of 
Bunyan (not to speak it profanely), they thrust their fin 
gers in their ears, in order to shut out all lateral subjects 
of thought, and rush on on on towards the new house. 
At last the throes of actual removal begin to be felt, 
and, for the time, all happy anticipation is deadened within 
us. You have long ago ascertained, by a ceremonious call 
upon the present tenants of your new mansion, that they 
cannot remove an hour before Whitsunday at noon, which 
gives you the comfortable assurance that your flitting will 
be, like a sharp fever, soon over. The lady who is coming 
to your house soon after makes a ceremonious call upon^ow, 
and ascertains, of course, that you can only remove at that 
hour also. If matters should happen otherwise if you 
are either going to a house altogether new, or to one which 
can be vacated a short while before the term-day, then 
what a convenience it is ! we shall have the painters in, 
and get it all put to rights before we flit a single stick ; 
and after it is all right, we shall remove quite at our leisure. 
By this plan we shall not only avoid the risk of breaking 
things, which is always the case in a hurried flitting, but 
we shall get porters and carters a great deal cheaper, for 
these fellows, you know, charge three wages on the actual 
term -day, when every body is flitting. But if it should 
happen, as above mentioned, that you are limited to a few 



186 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

hours, so that your furniture, as it goes out, will meet the 
furniture of another person coming in, and, as it goes in, 
will meet, in tug of war, that of another person coming 
out, then the blessed anticipation of your future comforts 
in "that nice house" reconciles you to everything, and 
you make yourself think that, after all, it is better, when 
one is flitting, to have it all over in the shortest possible 
space of time. 

Sometimes, even when you have a vantage space, you 
are strangely jockeyed out of it before you are aware. Say 
the house is to be painted before you go into it. Being 
quite at your ease, you are satisfied that the painters are 
engaged about two months before the term. You know 
very well that these men are the greatest of all rascals ; that, 
indeed, they have no other principle within them but just 
to put people to as much trouble as possible. But two 
months ! that must surely be sufficient. Well, the painters 
come all this time before the term, and, like the ancient 
Spanish navigators, take possession of a newly-discovered 
country, mark the job for their own, by planting a nasty 
pail in one room, and setting up a brush on end against the 
wall in another. You look in about a week after, and see 
the pail and the brush in statu quo : the fellows have as yet 
done nothing but taken seisin.* You think this is not just 
quite right, and calling in a cool easy way at the master's 
as you go home, express your wish that the job should be 
immediately proceeded with, being anxious to get into the 
house as long before the term as possible. The painter is all 
politeness, and promises to put men upon the house next 
morning, so that it will be got ready for your reception in 
no time by which he appears to mean a space of time so 
brief as not to be worth defining, but which you eventually 
find to have signified that the job would be finished not at 
all in time. As you come home to your dinner next after- 



A ceremony in the law of Scotland, by which a man becomes invested 
rith a piece of land or house property. 



FLITTING DAY. 187 

noon, you take a turn that way to see how " the men" are 
getting on. The house is as empty and desolate as ever ; 
but, from a change in the relative situations of the pail and 
the brush, you see that they have been there. On inspect 
ing things more minutely, you find that one bedroom has 
been washed down, and is now, to use a kitchen phrase, 
swimming. Well, this is a beginning, you think. " The 
men" have been doing what they could to-day, and to 
morrow they would be a good way advanced On this 
supposition, you take no more thought about the house for 
three or four days more, when, dropping in as before, you 
have the satisfaction of seeing that there is another pail, and 
that the ceiling of the dining-room has been whitewashed. 
Still, dilatory as the rascals evidently are, you hardly think 
there is a sufficient casus faederis, or breach of treaty, to 
entitle you to go and blow up the polite man at head 
quarters. You suffer for another day ; and then, dropping 
in again', you find a little Flibbertigibbet of a boy exerting 
himself with his tiny arms to whitewash the ceiling of the 
parlour. Well, my boy, where are "the men?" This is 
your question ; but for answer you only learn that there 
have never been any men in the matter nobody has ever 
been here but Flibbertigibbet himself. You feel, at this 
intelligence, almost as much bewildered and obfusculated 
as George the Second was when he asked an Irish sergeant 
at a review after the seven years' war, where was the 

regiment ? and was answered, " Please your majesty, 

I'se the regiment ;" the Hibernian being in reality the 

only man that had survived the last campaign. Is this 

the men, you say to yourself, that Mr promised to put 

upon the house ? You go of course instantly, and, Mr 

being, by his own good fortune, from home, you leave 

a note for him, expressed in such terms as you are sure 
must bring him to his senses, if any thing will. Dropping 
in next day to see the effect, your ire is soothed at finding 
three men at work besides Flibbertigibbet, and every thing 
seems going on so well, that you trouble them no more for 



188 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

a week. But it is needless to pursue this painful theme 
any farther. Suffice it to say, that, having once got these 
artists into the house, you feel by and by as if they were 
never again to be got out ; you fear that, contrary to the 
catastrophe of the well-known jest, there will be no letting 
go the painter. Their pails, and buckets, and brushes, 
and all their slopery, are just as rife in the house a week 
before the term as they were a month earlier ; and still to 

every remonstrance Mr replies, that all he can do is 

to put on more men next Monday morning. It is all you 
can do, perhaps, to get the odious varlets trundled out, 
" pots and all," on the very day before you are compelled 
to remove ; so that, instead of having ample scope and 
verge enough, as you expected, you find that you will be 
just as much hurried and flurried as if you had been going 
to a house not previously vacated. 

Well, whatever be the foregoing circumstances, flitting 
day at last arrives in all its horrors. The lady of the house 
hold has for several days been storing all kinds of small 
things by into drawers and boxes, that they might the more 
safely be transported, so that the family finds itself already 
deprived of the half of those things which are necessary to 
comfort, and the whole of what minister to luxury. Your 
shaving-box is amissing two mornings before flitting day, 
and has to be fished up, like a "drowned honour," from 
the bottom of some abyss of well-regarded trifles. When 
you come home to dinner on flitting day eve, it is any 
money for a boot-jack. You take your meals that evening 
without table-cloths ; and unless you can bring down your 
proud stomach to a brown kitchen bowl, any thing like a 
comforting drink is out of the question. The crepuscular 
anguish of the day is already felt. You go to your bed 
that night off an uncarpeted floor, and in the midst of all 
kinds of tubs covered up with packsheet, and looking- 
glasses swaddled up in linen. If you get a nightcap, you 
may consider yourself lucky above all mortal men. You 
go to bed, but sleep there is jione, for you have to rise 



FLITTING DAY. 189 

next morning long before the usual hour, and the anti 
cipatory sense of what you have to go through that day 
fills every nook and cranny of your mind. You awake to 
a rush of children and servants on the stairs ; and though 
you exert every nerve of your memory to recollect the new 
geography of things in the room, it is ten to one but you 
stumble over some tub or chest in the dark, where you 
thought no tub should be ; and, upon the whole, the feel 
ing with which you thrust your poor cold distressed shanks 
into your vestments, is not much short of that which must 
possess a man 'about to walk to the scaffold. A breakfast 
composed of every thing but the proper materials, and taken 
out of every thing but the proper vessels, collects such a 
group of shabby slatternly figures as you did not before 
think yourself husband, or father, or master to. The meal 
is gulped in agonies of haste, for the carts were to be at 
the door at seven exactly, and it is now within a few mi 
nutes of the hour. Well, the carts come ; one by one are 
your household goods displaced and packed up on those 
vehicles. Grates are placed on the breadth of their backs 
at the bottom, by way of ballast. Then mattresses go over 
them, to make an agreeable flooring for other things. 
Tables are tumbled a-top, with their legs reared high in 
the air, like cart-horses enjoying themselves in their Sunday 
pastures ; and to the ropes with which the heaps are bound 
down, are attached fry-pans, children's toys, and other 
light articles, all by way of garnishing. Though far above 
such things in general, you are obliged on this occasion to 
see after very mean details, lest your property should suf 
fer some dreadful damage. The more delicate articles are 
necessarily entrusted to porters or other serviceable indivi 
duals, who carry them separately to your new house. " The 
boys," glad to escape the school fora day, are employed, 
to their great satisfaction, in transporting single things, 
"which don't break;" and the servants see after certain 
baskets of crystal and crockery, " which do." To see all 
things properly disposed of each to the individual best 



190 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

fitted for it is your business, and no easy one it is. At 
length, after every thing is fairly packed off, the lady and 
yourself walk away together, the cat following in a pillow 
slip under the charge of your second eldest daughter. 

Before three in the afternoon, the whole of your furni 
ture, broken and whole, has been thrust, higglety-pigglety, 
into your new house, where you find all things in the 
most chaotic state of confusion. Kitchen things repose 
in the dining-room ; drawing-room chairs are deposited in 
the kitchen; and a huge chest of drawers stands in the 
vestibule, with a shoulder thrust so far out into the fair 
way as to render it almost impossible to pass. The kitchen 
grate is only to be built in after six o'clock in the evening, 
when the masons are released from their day's work ; so 
there is no possibility of cooking any thing. A provisional 
arrangement is therefore made on this point. You, and 
your wife, and your children, and all your assistants, bi 
vouac in some shabby parlour, and regale yourselves 
(absit elegantia) with rolls and porter. Henry, your eldest 
son, who has wrought like a Turk all day, leads the feast 
with his coat off, and the scene can only be compared to 
a rough-and-tumbling in the back woods of America. No 
ceremony as to knives. Rolls, and even large loaves, are 
torn through the middle, and large mouthfuls dug out from 
the mass by the thumb or forefinger. The liquor goes 
round in some ordinary vessel, never before appropriated 
to such a purpose, and all feeling of discomfort being stolen 
away by the novelty and strong natural feeling of the oc 
casion, the jest and laugh abound. Even in the midst of 
all the disarray, great hopes and expectations are expressed 
regarding the new mansion. Such capital high ceilings ! 
Such a broad elegant lobby ! So different from that dismal 
hole we have left ! Or, if the ceilings are low, and the lobby 
narrow, while in the former house they were the reverse, the 
contrast is drawn in reference to some other points where 
superiority is indisputable, while the demerits of the new 
abode are cast discreetly into shade, only to be brought out 



FLITTING DAY. 191 

and complained of at the approach of next Candlemas. You 
either have left a good view from the windows, or you 
are entering upon one. Suppose your former house, being 
in the centre of the town, had hardly any view, then your 
wife thus comments upon it : " Such a dark confined 
place ! Nothing to be seen from the windows, but the 
opposite houses, or else the chimney-stalks and old wives. 
Now, here we are quite in the country. The drawing-room 
commands Fife and North Berwick Law, and even from 
the bed-rooms we catch a great lump of the Dalmahoy 
hills. If we just step to the end of the house, we are into 
the fields ; and then we'll be so very quiet here, compared 
with what we were. Not a carriage or a cart passing from 
morning till night. We'll get some rest at last ; and truth 
to tell, my health is in great need of it. How truly de 
lightful thus to get fairly out of that black, smoky, noisy 
town, to a place where we can enjoy all the pleasures of 
the country, and yet be within reach of every convenience 
of the city ! And just consider how much benefit the walk 
must be to your own health. We formerly lived so near 
your place of business, that you got no exercise at all, see 
ing that I never could prevail upon you to take a walk on 
purpose. But here you must walk, and the good it must 
do you will be visible in a week's time," &c. &c. &c. If 
the case has been totally the reverse, you are addressed as 
follows : " How delightful to get fairly away from that 
cold, out-of-the-world, dull place, and once more feel our 
selves snug in the town ! We've no prospects here from 
the windows ; but, 'deed, when folk have prospects, I 
never see that they make much use of them. For my part, I 
never looked out of the drawing-room windows once in the 
month ; for what are the Fife hills or North Berwick Law 
after one has once seen them? [What philosophy we 
have here !] And then, what good did we get from the 
garden ? It was just a fash to keep right ; and I'm sure, 
when we had paid the gardener, we did not make a penny off 
the vegetables. Now, here, although there be little pro- 



192 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

spect from any of the windows, we're at least a great deal 
better protected from the wind. If we have not a garden 
of our own, have we not the green market almost at the 
door ? And such a weary distance you had to walk every 
day ! No more of that now. Here, when you want a 
walk, you can take one ; and when you don't like, you can 
let it alone. Walks are very well, perhaps, in good sum- 
mer weather ; but I've no idea of seeing you plash through 
a long dirty road twice every day through the whole win 
ter. Whenever we want either a walk or a prospect, we'll 
get it in the Queen Street gardens ; for you know Mrs 
has told me that we may have her key whenever we 
like. In our old ill-contrived house, we had no place to 
put any thing off our hand ; not so much as a cupboard in 
the whole house ; but now, you see, we have as many 
presses as rooms, and a capital cellar for coals and lumber. 
And how near we are here to all the best shops ! If it 
were for nothing but the convenience of getting tea-bread 
at a minute's warning from Mr Littlejohn, the baker, 
whenever any person calls upon us in the evening, it would 
have been worth while to remove to this house. The lass 
likewise tells me that there is a very obliging woman, quite 
at hand, who keeps a mangle for the use of the neighbour 
hood, which will be a great convenience to the family ; and 
that she will take in hand to supply us with milk or cream 
at any hour of the day," &c. &c. &c. Thus, it will be 
observed, neither the spirit of discontent nor the spirit of 
hope is ever without material for feeding its particular 
necessities. 

You have now got fairly into your new house, bag and 
baggage. It is after the manner, however, of a certain 
pound of comfits which a carrier once brought from a city 
confectioner to a country customer. The paper bag having 
proved insufficient in the journey, the contents had dis 
persed themselves throughout all the other packages in the 
cart. Every parcel, and bag, and box, had to be shaken 
clear of the lurking carvy, till, the whole of the bulky ar- 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 193 

tides having been discharged and laid off, the little white 
particles were found at the bottom mingled with straws, 
fragments of rope, and paper, and all other kinds of trash. 
The whole having been swept out, however, the honest 
old carrier brought them to the owner in a large platter, 
saying, with the air of a man who has relieved his con 
science of some uncommon weight, " Here they are, mis 
tress ; ye hae them a' for me." Just like the comfits are 
all your goods and chattels your ox, and your ass, and 
your children, and your every thing else the whole arc 
there ; but in such a state ! Perhaps, to add to your dis 
tresses, you have to delay putting the principal rooms to 
rights till the painters have to be with you. This, of course, 
adjourns the termination of your agonies sine die. Perhaps, 
about three months after, when you have battled the rascals 
out of one room into another, much after the manner of the 
siege of St Sebastian, you get at last into the enviable 
attitude " as you were," resolving of course never again 
to remove as long as you live, but still as ready before next 
2d of February to take that step as ever. 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 

*' DEBTORS AND CREDITORS." 

THE common feeling respecting debtors and creditors is 
very erroneous, and, as is common with popular fallacies, 
it imposes with double force upon the young and inexpe 
rienced. Debtors are represented in all works of fiction, 
and in the ordinary language of a large portion of society, 
as a set of amiable, unfortunate, and most interesting per 
sons : Creditors, on the other hand, as an unmingled 
generation of execrable wretches, with a hardness of heart 
that would not disgrace an executioner, and indeed only 
one remove from another stony class of men, the much 
misrepresented jailers. Now, the person who writes thi^ 



194 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

article has known many debtors and creditors, and he can 
say that, in by far the most of cases, the latter were the bet 
ter class of men. He alludes, of course, not to commercial 
men at large, who are in their own persons, in general, as 
much of the one thing as the other, but to cases where the 
creditor is a tradesman, and the debtor a customer ; that 
is, where the debt is not incurred in the intercourse of busi 
ness, but for the personal use and benefit of the debtor. 
In these cases, so far from the creditor being an unfeeling 
and relentless tyrant, as he is generally represented, he is 
only the indignant victim of the imprudence or guilt of the 
debtor. The latter may be an amiable and interesting 
person, for we often find these characteristics united to 
consummate folly and disregard of the rights of others. 
But the young must beware how they set down debtors, in 
a class, as purely estimable and entitled to sympathy, while 
they at the same time look upon creditors as only ruthless 
persecutors, worthy of the bitterest execration. They may 
depend upon it, that no notion could be more erroneous, 
no error more apt to be fatal to them in their course through 
life. They must be informed that to incur debt for their 
own gratifications, without the ability to discharge it, is 
just another thing for selling themselves as slaves to their 
creditors. After doing so, they are nolonger entirely free : 
part of themselves becomes the property of another, and 
thus they lose tne respect of the world, which cannot see 
one man indulge in enjoyments at the expense of his fellow, 
without thinking of him very meanly. The incurring of 
debt for personal gratification is odious, for many reasons. 
In the first place, it violates that rule of nature which ap 
points every man to work for himself, and only enjoy as he 
works. It also tends to occasion the ruin of innocent per 
sons. Creditors are not invariably rich, as one would 
suppose them to be, from reading novels. They are more 
frequently poor, industrious persons, who, in losing money 
by their debtors, are apt to be made debtors themselves, 
and thereby ruined. In fact, the ease stands generally 



FALLACIES OF THE YOUNG. 195 

thus : An idle or extravagant person procures support for 
his bad appetites, and is enabled to show himself off as a 
very fine fellow, at the expense of a humble -minded honest 
trader, who confines himself constantly to his business, and 
forbids himself almost every indulgence, in order that he 
may be able to pay every one to whom lie is indebted, and 
discharge all the other duties of a good citizen. Now, if 
young people will bring their naturally generous feelings to 
bear upon this point, they will see that the debtor, and not 
the creditor, is alone worthy of execration. And they may 
be assured, that, where creditors show a severity to their 
debtors, it is generally either merited by the latter, or is 
dictated by a justifiable consideration of the danger into 
which they are thrown by the non-payment of the money 
which is their due, and which they may be owing in their 
turn to some other person. 

In every rule there are exceptions ; but it is necessary 
to guard against the breaking down of great rulesby allow 
ing for trifling exceptions. Because good men sometimes 
incur debt, and become insolvent, through no fault of 
theirs, we must not infringe upon the majesty of the great 
maxim, that debt ought to be paid, and that its non-pay 
ment is an evil. Young people, if they wish to prosper in 
the world, will do well not to excuse all contraction of debt 
for the sake of the few who contract it innocently. They 
must have it impressed forcibly upon their minds, that 
every pleasure in which they indulge themselves, without 
the reasonable prospect of paying for it, though it be but 
to the amount of one penny, is a step in error, and apt to 
be the beginning of their destruction. They must have it 
impressed upon their minds, that no man of good feelings 
can enjoy the least comfort, if he be not conscious of work 
ing for, or being honestly come into the possession of, fully 
as much as he spends. To persist in living beyond our 
incomes, is to live a life of dishonesty ; and to subsist on the 
industry of relatives, as is sometimes the case with the idle 
and the dissolute, is worse still, for it involves an excessive 



196 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, 

meanness of spirit, ingratitude, and hard-heartedness thus 
adding depth to the crime, and will be sure to be visited 
some day with feelings of anguish and remorse. 

A predominating error among the junior classes of so 
ciety, is a disinclination to wait for a short time till they 
be enabled to compete in the enjoyment of luxuries with 
others they see around them, and who, it is more than 
probable, have toiled long and painfully before they arrived 
at their present apparently prosperous condition. This 
impatience of reaching a certain height in the ladder of for 
tune, without taking deliberation to mount a number of 
preliminary and difficult steps, cannot, indeed, be suffi 
ciently reprehended, where it occurs, as it leads to that 
fatal resource of incurring debts never to be paid, and that 
supposed harshness of creditors, which a disordered pro 
cess of reasoning brings into view. I would here tenderly 
admonish the youthful part of the community to refrain 
from indulgences they cannot honestly command. Let 
them believe one who has had some experience, when he 
tells them that there is not the least chance of the world 
running away from them ; that the present generation of 
grown men will not consume all earthly enjoyments, but 
will leave a boundless variety of every thing which can 
please the senses, or gratify an honourable ambition. 
They need, therefore, be in no hurry whatever, and take 
time to build their fortune on a firm and secure basis. The 
rising generation cannot lay these things sufficiently to 
heart. They cannot be sufficiently taught, that suffering 
under the consequences of imprudently. incurred debts does 
not necessarily make them heroes is not entitled to un- 
mingled sympathy, no more than a robber at the gallows is 
a martyr ; but that, while pity is perhaps due to them, as 
to all who err in this frail world, the larger share of sym 
pathy ought to be bestowed on their unfortunate victims, 
the creditors, whose families may be suffering from their 
criminal follies, and who are apt to be by far the better and 
honester men. 



GENERAL INVITATIONS. 197 



GENERAL INVITATIONS. 

" PRAY, do call in an easy way some evening, you and 
Mrs Balderstone ; we are sure to be at home, and shall be 
most happy to see you." Such is the kind of invitation 
one is apt to get from considerably intimate acquaintances, 
who, equally resolved against the formality and the expense 
of a particular entertainment on your account, hope to 
avoid both evils by making your visit a matter of accident. 
If you be a man of some experience, you will know that 
all such attempts to make bread and cheese do that which 
is more properly the business of a pair of fowls, end in 
disappointment ; and you will, therefore, take care to wait 
till the general invitation becomes a particular one. But 
there are inexperienced people in this world who think 
every thing is as it seems, and are apt to be greatly deceived 
regarding this accidental mode of visiting. For the sake 
of these last, I shall relate the following adventure : 

I had been remarkably busy one summer, and, conse 
quently, obliged to refuse all kinds of invitations, general 
and particular. The kind wishes of my friends had accu 
mulated upon me somawhat after the manner of the tunes 
frozen up in Baron Munchausen's French horn ; and it 
seemed as if a whole month would have been necessary to 
thaw out and discharge the whole of these obligations. A 
beginning, however, is always something; and, accordingly, 
one rather splashy evening in November, I can't tell how 
it was, but a desire came simultaneously over myself and 
Mrs Balderstone it seemed to be by sympathy of step 
ping out to see Mr and Mrs Currie, a married pair, who 
had been considerably more pressing in their general invi 
tations than any other of our friends. We both knew that 
there was a cold duck in the house, besides a bit of cheese 
just sent home by Nicholson, and understood to be more 
than excellent. But, as the old Scots song says, the tid 



198 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

bad come over us, and forth we must go. No sooner said 
than done. Five minutes more saw us leaving our com 
fortable home, my wife carrying a cap pinned under her 
cloak, while to my pocket was consigned her umbrageous 
comb. As we paced along, we speculated only on the 
pleasure which we should give to our kind friends by thus 
at last paying them a visit, when perhaps all hope of our 
ever doing so was dead within them. Nor was it possible 
altogether to omit reflecting, like the dog invited by his 
friend to sup, upon the entertainment which lay before us ; 
for certainly on such an occasion the fatted calf could 
hardly expect to be spared. 

Full of the satisfaction which we were to give and re 
ceive, we were fully into the house before we thought it 
necessary to inquire if any body was at home. The servant 
girl, surprised by the forward confidence of our entree, 
evidently forgot her duty, and acknowledged, when she 
should have denied, the presence of her master and mistress 
in the house. We were shown into a dining-room as clean, 
cold, and stately as an alabaster cave, and which had the 
appearance of being but rarely lighted by the blaze of hos 
pitality. My first impulse was to relieve my pocket, before 
sitting down, of the comb, which I thought was now about 
being put to its proper use ; but the chill of the room stayed 
my hand. I observed, at the same time, that my wife, like 
the man under the influence of Eolus in the fable, mani 
fested no symptom of parting with her cloak. Ere we 
could communicate our mutual sensations of incipient dis 
appointment, Mrs Currie entered with a flurried, surprised 
air, and made a prodigious effort to give us welcome. But, 
alas ! poor Mr Currie ; he had been seized in the afternoon 
with a strange vertigo and sickness, and was now endea 
vouring, by the advice of Dr Boak, to get some repose, 
" It will be such a disappointment to him when he learns 
that you were here, for he would have been go happy to 
see you. We mutet just entertain the hope, however, to 
see you some other night." Although the primary idea in 



GENERAL INVITATIONS. 199 

our minds at this moment was unquestionably the desperath 

cibi the utter hopelessness of supper in this quarter we 

betrayed, of course, no feeling but sympathy in the illness 
of our unfortunate friend, and a regret for having called at 
so inauspicious a moment. Had any unconcerned person 
witnessed our protestations, he could have formed no sus 
picion that we ever contemplated supper, or were now in 
the least disappointed. We felt anxious about nothing but 
to relieve Mrs Currie, as soon as possible, of the inconve 
nience of our visit, more especially as the chill of the room 
was now piercing us to the bone. We therefore retired, 
under a shower of mutual compliments and condolences, 
and " hopes," and " sorries," and " have the pleasures ;" 
the door at last slamming after us with a noise which seemed 
to say, " How very glad I am to get quit of you !" 

When we got to the street, we certainly did not feel 
quite so mortified as the dog already alluded to, seeing that 
we had not, like him, been tossed over the window. But, 
still the reverse of prospect was so very bitter, that for 
some time we could hardly believe that the adventure was 
real. By this time we had expected to be seated snug at 
supper, side by side with two friends, who, we anticipated, 
would almost expire with pleasure at seeing us. But here, 
on the contrary, we were turned out upon the cold in 
hospitable street, without a friend's face to cheer us. We 
still recollected that the cold duck remained as a fortress to 
Ml back upon ; but, being now fairly agog in the adventure, 
the idea of returning home, re infecta, was not to be thought 
of. Supper we must have in some other house than our 
own, let it cost what it may, " Well," said Mrs Balder- 
stone, " there are the Jacksons ! They live not far from 
this suppose we drop in upon them. I'm sure we have 
had enough of invitations to their house. The very last 
time I met Mrs Jackson on the street, she told me she was 
never going to ask us again we had refused so long she 
was going, she said, just to let us come if we liked, and when 
we liked." Off we went, therefore, to try the Jacksons. 



iMJO SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

On applying at the door of this house, it flew open, a* 
it were, by enchantment, and the servant girl, so far from 
hesitating like the other, seemed to expect no question to 
be asked on entree. We moved into the lobby, and in 
quired if Mr and Mrs Jackson were at home, which was 
answered by the girl with a surprised affirmative. We 
now perceived, from the pile of hats and cloaks in the 
lobby, as well as a humming noise from one of the rooms, 
that the Jacksons had a large company, and that we were 
understood by the servant to be part of it. The Jacksons. 
thought we (I know my wife thought so, although I never 
asked), give some people particular invitations. Her object 
was now to make an honourable retreat, for, although my 
dress was not entirely a walking one, and my wife's cap 
was brought with the prospect of making an appearance of 
dress, we were by no means fit to match with those who 
had dressed on jpurpose for the party, even although we 
were asked to join them. Just at this moment, Mrs Jack 
son happened to cross the lobby, on hospitable thoughts 
intent, and saw us, than whom, perhaps, she would rather 
have seen a basilisk. '* Oh, Mrs Balderstone, how do 
you do ? How are you, Mr Balderstone ? I'm so de 
lighted that you have come in this easy way at last. A 
few of the neighbours have just dropped in upon us, and 
it will be so delightful if you will join them. Come into 
this room and take off your bonnet; and you, Mr Balder- 
stone, just you be so good as step up to the drawing-room. 
You'll find numbers there that you know. And Mr Jack 
son will be so happy to see you," &c. All this, however, 
would not do. Mrs Balderstone and I not only felt a little 
hurt at the want of speciality in our invitations to this 
house, but could not endure the idea of mingling in a crowd 
better dressed and more regularly invited than ourselves. 
We therefore begged Mrs Jackson to excuse us for this 
night. We had just called in an easy way in passing, and, 
indeed, we never attended ceremonious parties at any time. 
We would see her some other evening, when she was less 



GENERAL INVITATIONS. 201 

engaged that is to say, " we would rather see you and Mr 
Jackson at Jericho than darken your doors again." And 
so off we came, with the blandest and most complimentary 
language upon our tongues, and the most piqued and scorn 
ful feelings in our hearts. 

Again upon the street yea, once again. What was to 
be done now ? Why, said Mrs Balderstone, there is ex 
cellent old Mrs Smiles, who lives in the next street. I 
have not seen her or the Misses Smiles for six months ; 
but the last time they were so pressing for us to return 
their visit (you remember they supped with us in spring), 
that I think we cannot do better than take this opportunity 
of clearing scores. 

Mrs Smiles, a respectable widow, lived with her five 

daughters in a third floor in Street. Thither we 

marched, with a hope, undiminished by the two preceding 
disappointments, that here at length we would find supper. 
Our knock at Mrs Smiles's hospitable portal produced a 
strange rushing noise within ; and when the servant ap 
peared, I observed in the far, dim vista of the passage, one 
or two slip-slop figures darting across out of one door into 
another, and others again crossing in the opposite direction ; 
and then there was heard a low anxious whispering, while 
a single dishevelled head peeped out from one of the doors, 
and then the head was withdrawn, and all was still. We 
were introduced into a room which had evidently been the 
scene of some recent turmoil of no ordinary kind, for female 
clothes lay scattered in every direction, besides some ar 
ticles which more properly belong to a dressing-room. We 
had not been here above a minute, when we heard our 
advent announced by the servant in an adjoining apartment 
to Mrs Smiles herself, and some of her young ladies. A 
flood of obloquy was instantly opened upon the girl by one 
of her young mistresses Miss Eliza, we thought for hav 
ing given admission to any body at this late hour, especially 
when she knew that they were to be up early next morning 
to commence their journey, and had still a great many of 



202 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

their things to pack. " And such a room you have shown 
them into, you goose !" said the enraged Miss. The girl 
Avas questioned as to our appearance, for she had neglected 
to ask our name ; and then we heard one young lady say, 
" It must be these Balderstones. What can have set them 
a-gadding to-night ? I suppose we must ask them to stay 
to supper, for they'll have come for nothing else confound 
them ! Mary, you are in best trim ; will you go in and 
speak to them till we get ourselves ready ? The cold meat 
will do, with a few eggs. I'm sure they could not have 
come at a worse time." Miss Mary accordingly came 
hastily in after a few minutes, and received us with a 
thousand protestations of welcome. Her mother would 
be so truly delighted to see us, for she had fairly given 
up all hope of our ever visiting her again. She was just get 
ting ready, and would be here immediately. " In the 
meantime, Mrs Balderstone, you will lay by your cloak and 
bonnet. Let me assist you," &c. We had got enough, 
however, of the Smileses. We saw we had dropped into 
the midst of a scene of easy dishabille, and surprised it with 
unexpected ceremony. It would have been cruel to the 
Smileses to put them about at such a time, and ten times 
more cruel to ourselves to sit in friendly intercourse with a 
family who had treated us in such a manner behind our backs. 
1 : ' These Balderstones /" The phrase was wormwood. My 
wife, therefore, made up a story to the effect that we had 
only called in going home from another friend's house, in 
order to inquire after the character of a servant. As Mrs 
Smiles was out of order, we would not disturb her that 
evening, but call on some other occasion. Of course, the 
more that we declaimed about the impossibility of remain 
ing to supper, the more earnestly did Miss Smiles entreat 
us to remain. It would be such a disappointment to her 
mother, and still more to Eliza and the rest of them. She 
was obliged, however, with well-affected reluctance, to 
give way to our impetuous desire of escaping. 

Having once more stepped forth into the cold blast of 



GENERAL INVITATIONS. 203 

November, we began to feel that supper was becoming a 
thing which we could not much longer, with comfort, trust 
to the contingency of general invitations. We therefore 
sent home our thoughts to the excellent cold duck and 
green cheese which lay in our larder, and, picturing to our 
selves the comfort of our parlour fireside, with a good 
bottle of ale toasting within the fender, resolved no more 
to wander abroad in search of happiness, unless there 
should be something like a certainty of good fare and a 
hearty welcome elsewhere. 

Thus it is always with general invitations. " Do call 
on us some evening, Miss Duncan, just in an easy way, 
and, pray, bring your seam with you, for there is nothing 
I hate so much as ceremonious set calls," is the sort of 
invitations you will hear in the middle ranks of life, given 
to some good-natured female acquaintance, while you your 
self, if a bachelor, will in the same way be bidden to call 
"just after you are done with business, and any night in 
the week ; it is all the same, for you can never catch us 
unprepared." The deuce is in these general invitations. 
People give them without reflecting that they cannot be at 
all times ready to entertain visitors ; cannot be so much as 
at home to have the chance of doing so. Other people 
accept and act upon them, at the risk of either putting 
their visitors dreadfully about, or receiving a very poor 
entertainment. The sudden arrival of an unexpected guest 
who has come on the faith of one of these delusive roving 
invitations, indeed, in many instances, disorganises the 
economy of a whole household. Nothing tries a house 
wife so much. The state of her larder or cupboard instan 
taneously flashes on her mind ; and if she do not happen 
to be a notable, and, consequently, not a regular curer of 
beef, or curious in the matter of fresh eggs, a hundred to 
one but she feels herself in an awkward dilemma, and, I 
have no doubt, would wish the visitor any where but where 
he is. The truth is, by these general invitations you may 
chance to arrive at a death or a marriage, a period of 



204 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

mourning or rejoicing, when the sympathies of the family- 
are all engaged with matters of their own. 

If people will have their friends beside them, let them, 
for the sake of all that is comfortable, give them a definite 
invitation at once ; a general invitation is much worse than 
no invitation at all ; it is little else than an insult, however 
unintentional ; for it is as much as to say that the person 
is not worth inviting in a regular manner. In "good" 
society, a conventional understanding obtains in the deli 
cate point of invitations ; there is an established scale of 
the value of the different meals adapted to the rank of the 
invited. I advise all my friends to follow this invaluable 
code of civility. By all means let your invitations have a 
special reference to time. On the other hand, if a friend 
comes plump down with a request that you will favour him 
with your company at a certain hour of the day, why, go 
without hesitation. The man deserves your company for 
his honesty, and you will be sure to put him to no more 
trouble than what he directly calculates on. But turn a 
deaf ear, if you be wise, to general invitations ; they are 
nets spread out to ensnare your comfort. Rather content 
yourself with the good old maxim, which somebody has 
inscribed over an ancient doorway in one of the old streets 
of Edinburgh, TECUM HABIT A Keep at Home. 



CONFESSORS. 

IT is a very general impression that the system of auricu 
lar confession was given up at the Reformation. Such is 
by no means the case ; every man and mother's son in the 
country still keeps his confessor. By this epithet, it may 
be guessed, I mean that chief and most particular friend 
whom every man keeps about him who stands his best 
man when he is married, and becomes his second when he 



CONFESSORS. 205 

fights a duel his double, in short, or second self a crea 
ture whom you almost always find with him when you call, 
and who either walks under his arm in the street, or is 
found waiting for him while he steps into some neighbour 
ing shop, or, as the case may happen, is waited for by 
him. 

I make bold to say, there is not a trader any where who 
does not keep his confessor. The creature haunts the 
shop, till he almost seems the Genius of the Place, to the 
grievous prepossession of newspapers, and, what is more 
intolerable still, to the exclusive occupation of the ear of 
the worthy shopkeeper himself. The evening is the grand 
revel-time for confessors of this genus. Between eight and 
nine, you see them gathering to the shops of their respec 
tive victims, like fowl to roost. As you pass about nine, 
you observe, on looking in, that the discipline and rigour of 
shop-life has dissolved. Master, men, and boys, feel the 
approach of the moment of emancipation, with a peculiar 
salience of thought, alternating with a deep and tranquil 
delight. The confessor reigns in the spirit of this glorious 
hour, and his laugh, and his joke, and his news, and his 
proffered pinch, are listened to, re-echoed, and partaken 
of by his devotee, with a pleasure of the keenest nature, 
and ominous, you may make sure, of oysters and gin punch 
on the way home. 

In some shops, confessors cluster like grapes over a 
vintner's door. They block up the way of custom ; and 
it is evident, in many cases, that the devotee would rather 
lose the chance of a penny from a customer, by omitting 
opportunities of attack, temptation, and inveiglement, than 
lose the joke that is passing in the merry circle of his con 
fessors, which his ear drinks in as a precious aside, while 
he only can spare a mere fragment of his attention a cor 
ner of one auditory organ the front shop of his mind to 
the real business before him. In some shops, confessors 
get no encouragement before dinner. The broad eye of 
garish day, in those fastidious establishments, could no 



206 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

more endure such a walking personification of idle gossip, 
than a ball-room, at high twelve, could tolerate the intru 
sion of a man in a short coat, with a pen stuck in his ear. 
But this is by no means the general case ; and even in 
some instances, where the front shop will not admit of such 
an appendage, ten to one but, if the premises were well 
ransacked, you would find a specimen of the class snug in 
some out-of-the-way corner, filling up the greater part of 
his time with a newspaper, but every now and then re 
sorted to by his votary, in the intervals of actual employ 
ment, like an Egeria receiving the visits of a Numa, and 
no doubt administering equally precious counsel. 

The more common position of a shopkeeper's confessor 
is a chair opposite the door, whence he may command a 
view of all that passes on the street, with a full front in 
spection of every individual that makes bold to enter. 
Into this chair the confessor invariably glides as a matter 
of course. There he sits down, and, throwing one limb 
over the other, considers himself entitled to inflict his 
company upon the unhappy shopkeeper for any length of 
time. He notices, as if he were not noticing, all that go.es 
on in the premises. Not an orde.r is given for goods, not 
a payment made, or a pennyworth sold, but it is seen, and 
very likely made the subject of after comment. It is of no 
consequence to the confessor what description of customers 
enter the place. Were a princess of the blood to come in, 
he would keep his seat and his countenance equally un 
moved, and a whole band of ladies, driven in to escape a 
shower of rain, will not stir him from the chair, to which 
he seems nailed, like the marble prince of the Black Islands, 
in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. The customers 
very naturally feel disinclined to patronise a shop which 
is thus, as it were, haunted by an evil spirit. " Oh, how I 
do hate to enter that shop of Mr Such-a-thing," says one 
young lady to another, " for every thing you do or say is 
noticed by that odious person who is always lounging there. " 
And in this manner Mr Such-a-thing loses his business, 



CONFESSORS. 207 

almost without the possibility of recalling it. He longs to 
discover a means of disposing of the confessor, but he finds 
a great difficulty in accomplishing his purpose. He is dis 
inclined to be churlish to a person to whom he has confessed 
himself for years. Still he makes an effort. He grows 
cool in his civility, and makes a point of being always busy 
on his arrival. Perhaps he has the good luck, at length, 
to shake off this pest of his premises ; but it is more than 
probable that he submits to the terrific infliction for life, 
his confessor only leaving him when he is fairly in his 
grave. I once knew a dreadful case of confessorship, in 
which the shopkeeper had the hardihood to expel his visi 
tant, and by a plan so ingenious that I think it worth while 
to advert to it. The shop contained four chairs, including 
the confessional, which stood opposite the door. One day 
when the confessor arrived, and, as usual, proceeded to his 
seat, he was a little surprised in remarking that it was filled 
to a pretty good height with parcels of some kind or other. 
But as this appeared naturally enough to be caused by a 
press in the stock of goods, no observation took place re 
garding it, and another chair was selected. However, next 
day when he again appeared, another chair was found 
covered up in a similar maner. The following day, he even 
found a third filled with parcels ; and on the fourth day 
the whole were thus engaged. The confessor now saw 
that a conspiracy had been formed to destroy his functions, 
and to expel him from his ancient settlements. Like the 
unhappy antediluvians, who, as the flood arose, were 
driven from one spot of earth to another, and at last did 
not find a dry piece of ground whereon to rest their foot, so 
the unhappy confessor had been driven from chair to chair, 
till at last he could not discover a place whereon he could 
plant himself. A pang of vexation shot through his heart ; 
a gleam of mingled shame and indignation passed over his 
countenance ; and, with a last look of despair, he burst 
from the shop, and " ne'er was heard of more." 

It must be allowed that some men do not stand so much 



208 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

in need of confessors, or do not indulge so much in them, 
as others ; but, upon the whole, it may be taken as a 
general rule, that no man can altogether do without such 
an official. In the fair on-going business of life, one acts 
mo more solito, according to one's regular custom of trade, 
or by the common rules of the world. But occasions oc 
cur, where common practice does not furnish a rule. You 
are in love, and wish to interest a friend in your passion ; 
you are about to marry, and require information about ar 
rangements, and also some one to stand beside you, and 
pull off your glove, preparatory to the ceremony ; you have 
a quarrel, and need a third party to tell you that you are 
in the right ; you are about to enter into some commercial 
or other enterprise a little beyond your usual depth, and 
find it necessary to fortify your resolution by the sanction 
of a friend ; or you write a poem or a novel, and require 
to have somebody to read the manuscript, and tell you that 
it is sure of success. In all these cases, the confessor is 
indispensable. Without him, you would be crossed in love ; 
get stranded in the straits of matrimony ; permit yourself, 
after giving offence and insult, to let off the object of it 
with impunity for his remonstrance ; break down in your 
new business scheme ; and let your manuscript waste its 
sweetness on the desert scrutoire. But with him all goes 
smooth. 

Upon the whole, it is better that one's confessor should 
be a little poorer, as well as a little more plausible in speech, 
than one's self: he ought to be a man to whom meat and 
drink are things of some account a broken-down Scotch 
licentiate an author who has published respectable books 
which have never sold ; in short, some idle, poor, ser 
vile individual, to whom it is of the last importance to 
get a good grazing ground in the back premises of a sub 
stantial trader, upon whom he may revenge that partiality 
of fortune, which decrees all the real comforts of life to 
the mercantile and commonplace, while the real " clever 
fellows" starve. 



A CHAPTER OF POLITICAL ECONOMY. 209 

But, after all, it must be allowed that there is a great 
deal of confessorship in the world, independent of a regard 
to cake and pudding. It is in many cases simply a fasci 
nation exerted over one mind by another ; in others, the 
result of tliat very common failing, the want of confidence 
in one's own resources. Young men by which I mean 
men in the mason-lodge time of life, say between twenty 
arid five-and-twenty are most apt to indulge in confession. 
They think friends all in all, and for friends would give up 
every thing. All business and duty is to them an episode, 
only consented to because it is unavoidable ; while the en 
joyment of the countenance of their friends seems the main 
and true concern of life. Then are the joys of confession 
truly relished. Then does the vampire confessor suck 
deepest into the vitals of his devotee. Happy delusion 
sweet morning dream alas ! too certain to awake to the 
conviction that it is " but a dream !" 



A CHAPTER OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, 

WRITTEN FOR THE BRITISH PEASANTRY. 

THE monstrous absurdity, that there is a principle in the 
economy of nature by which population increases beyond 
the means of support, has been stated by men eminent in 
various departments of political economy, and countenanced 
by individuals in whom the soundest reasoning and far 
sightedness might have been expected. There is not a 
principle in nature having a tendency to increase popula 
tion beyond the means of subsistence, or to overpeople the 
world. To suppose that there is, is to impugn the mag 
nificent designs of the Creator, and to call in question his 
vigilant and ever-sustaining providence. When the globe 
which we inhabit, and all that it sustains in the animal and 
vegetable kingdoms, was called into existence, and sent 



210 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL, 

forth fresh from the hands of its Divine Constructor, cer 
tain fixed principles were ordained and put into uninter- 
initting action, by which all were to be sustained, and 
prevented alike from coming to a stand, or into collision. 
These principles involved the production and reproduction 
of food for man and beast through an incalculable series of 
ages ; and this process of production was left to be excited 
or retarded in a great measure by man, for whose conve 
nience all subordinate parts were organised, and by whose 
thinking faculties the increase or decrease of food was ap 
parently to be proportioned. In a word, it was left to our 
free-will whether to cultivate the soil, or leave it in its rude 
and unproductive condition. 

It has happened in the course of some five or six thou 
sand years after the creation of the world, that a small 
island, lying in the seas which border on the northern part 
of Europe a spot of earth so comparatively small that it 
may be traversed from one end to the other in the space of 
little more than a week has, by the artificial state of its so 
ciety, and a concourse of injudicious regulations, increased 
in its population to about seventeen millions of inhabitants ; 
and because, as must necessarily be the case from the in 
fluence of these regulations, a number of the people are in 
impoverished circumstances, and are not so well fed a? 
their neighbours, it has, forsooth, pleased a few men in 
this large mass of humanity to impeach the God of the 
universe, and to tell us that He creates millions of think 
ing beings only to put them to death by starvation. 

To show the utter fallacy of this detestable theory, I 
need only bring under your notice two simple facts, in 
which all such vicious and shallow-minded reasoning finds 
an insurmountable obstacle to its establishment. It is a 
great, a comforting, and an undeniable fact, that there arc 
immense tracts of land, islands, and even continents, which 
till this hour are lying in nearly their primeval state, with 
the soil untouched since the beginning of the world. So 
boundless are these almost uninhabited territories, so ca- 



A CHAPTER OF POLITICAL ECONOMY. 211 

pable are they of sustaining human life, that, if the proper 
means were used, they would yield food, clothing, and a 
place of residence to more people than all that the ancient 
settlements of the human race at present contain. They 
could hold all the existing population of the earth, and not 
be filled, Canada itself could receive and maintain the 
whole of the population of Europe ; and the seventeen 
millions of human beings belonging to the little island which 
lias raised such alarm, might be transported to the banks 
of one of the mighty rivers in the United States, and it 
would hardly be known that they had taken up their resi 
dence in the country. " Send us over your whole popu 
lation (says an American writer) ; we have plenty of room 
for you all, and a hundred millions more." But such a 
gratifying fact as this gives but a faint idea of the vastness, 
the capabilities of the world beyond the waters of the At 
lantic. In one of the numbers of the Journal, I presented 
the account given by the ingenious naturalist Audubon, 
of the wild pigeons of America. Have my readers any re 
collection of the extraordinary number of these animals, 
and the calculation made regarding the quantity of their 
daily food ? Let me here repeat and extend the calcula 
tion. The number of pigeons seen on the wing by Audu 
bon, as computed by allowing two pigeons to the square 
yard, was one billion, one hundred and fifteen millions, one 
hundred and thirty-six thousand, and "as every pigeon (says 
he) daily consumes fully half a pint of food, the quantity 
necessary for supplying this vast multitude must be eight 
millions seven hundred and twelve thousand bushels per day." 
The species of food used is the produce of the trees. We 
thus find, that by a moderate calculation a single flock of 
pigeons in the back woods of America consumes in one 
day as great an amount of food, whether by weight or mea 
sure, as would support the whole seventeen millions of 
people in Great Britain for at least a week. The mind is 
lost in wonder in contemplation of so magnificent a fact. 
The faculty of thought is bewildered in pondering on so 



212 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

striking an instance of the astonishing bounty of the great 
Author of Nature in providing for the wants of his crea 
tures. Where, where, may we then ask, have the pre- 
dicters of famine been examining the sources of food for 
man ? On what have their eyes and their thoughts been 
fixed, that they have passed over this prospect of inex 
haustible plenty ? It would seem that they have never 
looked beyond the confines of that little spot of land in the 
ocean, which I have alluded to, and whose superabundant 
thousands require only to be transferred to that division 
on the earth's surface holding out food, raiment, and resi 
dence for their gratuitous acceptance, in order that society 
may right itself. 

The above is t\\e first fact I have to offer in the elucida 
tion of this important question ; and I maintain, in direct 
opposition to those who have taken a contrary view of the 
subject among whom I am sorry to include persons other 
wise distinguished for the clearness and comprehensiveness 
of their views of the social compact that until the whole 
earth has been peopled, and until it can hold no more, it 
cannot rationally be said that the means of subsistence are 
inadequate for the wants of the population. These means 
are no more inadequate than that the produce of a kitchen - 
garden is insufficient to support the family to which it be 
longs ; and if this family be prevented from seeking its 
subsistence beyond its garden walls, and so be half starved, 
their miserable case is exactly parallel with that of this 
over-populated island. Remove, I would say, all restric 
tions of a certain description ; do not unnaturally foster 
population either in a particular part of the country, or at 
a particular time ; LET MANKIND ALONE : and, in the same 
manner that fluids find their level, so will the redundant 
population of Great Britain and Ireland be profitably dis 
persed over territories hitherto untrodden by the footsteps 
of civilised men. 

My second fact is more hypothetical, but not less ob 
vious to our understanding. It is an old proverbial ex- 



A CHAPTER OF POLITICAL ECONOMY. 213 

pression, that " necessity is the mother of invention." 
Now, in this sentiment we discover one of the wisest 
provisions of Providence. It is only by necessity that 
mankind, in a savage state, are compelled to hunt, or 
otherwise toil, for their subsistence. The same feeling 
predominates through all the ramifications of civilised so 
ciety. In proportion as the necessities of men spur them on 
to seekout new means of subsistence, so do these new means 
of subsistence open upon their view. If we cast a retro 
spective glance upon those steps which society has traced 
from its infancy to manhood from a state of barbaric rude 
ness to a condition of luxury and splendour we invariably 
find that all improvements have originated in the wants of 
the people ; and that, in proportion as they increased in 
number, so did they whet their invention, and contrive 
additional means of support. It is from this cause that 
Scotland, for instance, had no greater overplus of food 
when it had only a million of inhabitants than it has now, 
when it supports nearly three times the number. Nay, it 
had much less food in proportion when it had only a mil 
lion of people ; and hence it is proved that mankind, by 
their inventions and improvements, greatly increase the 
means of support beyond the point at which they formerly 
stood. The power of seeking out, or inventing, new means 
of subsistence, just as the old ones are perceived to be in 
adequate, has been actively at work since the beginning of 
time, and will operate for the benefit of our race as long 
as sun and moon endure. It is in the exercise of this 
transcendent faculty of the human mind that we see the 
beneficence of the Creator in providing unseen means of 
subsistence ; and it is in it that we find the cheering hope, 
that at no period, however distant, even wlien the whole 
earth shall have been covered with inhabitants, shall man 
kind languish for lack of food. As they go on increasing 
in number, so will they go on perfecting their contrivances ; 
every succeeding generation may labour under some new 
difficulty, but so will it be endowed with the faculty of re 
leasing itself from it. 



214 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



THE DRAMA. 

THEATRICALS are said to be losing public favour in almost 
every place where they are known, and public writers are 
puzzled to account for it. 

When the buckle-trade declined some years ago, the 
cause was at once seen to be the ascendency of buttons. 
But it would appear that the cause of the decline of thea 
tricals, though almost equally obvious, is more a subject 
of dispute. It is only so because the subject is larger, and 
composed of more parts. We think, however, that a little- 
discussion will suffice to show, with equal clearness, what 
causes the failure of dramatic amusements, as a part of the 
great system of public entertainment. 

Taking the middle of the last century as a period when 
dramatic exhibitions were generally well attended, let us 
inquire what there was in the condition and circumstances 
of the theatre at that period to have rendered this a mat 
ter of course. We reply at once, that plays were then as 
well written, as well got up f and as well acted, as any pic 
ture was then painted, or any novel or poem written. The 
drama was at that time on a perfect level with, or perhaps 
even superior to, the current literature of the day, or any 
other instrument of public amusement which existed. Nor 
was it beneath the standard of the general manners of so 
ciety. It exhibited, in a gross enough manner, the vices 
of the age ; but the people whose vices were exhibited 
were rendered insensible by those very vices to the gross- 
ness of the scene. 

The theatre is now in quite a different condition from 
what it was in then. W^hether owing to the want of legis 
lative enactments, which might encourage literary men in 
writing for the theatre, or to some other cause, our dra 
matic entertainments are now of a character much beneath 
or behind the age. Our acting plays are either the old 
stock, displeasing us with the exhibition of obsolete vices ; 
or modern trash, full of exaggerated character and senti- 



THE DRAMA. 215 

ment, trusting for success, perhaps, to romantic scenery 
and machinery ; or literal transcripts of nursery fables. Our 
drama, overlooking some better qualities, is, in a great 
measure, a compound of childishness, indecency, buf 
foonery, and, to no small extent, of profanity ; in every 
point of view fifty years in taste behind our current ficti 
tious literature, which, in itself, is susceptible of great 
amendment. 

In Great Britain the drama has always appealed to the 
less serious and virtuous part of the community. At the 
time of the civil war, and after the re-establishment of the 
theatre at the Restoration, it was altogether a Cavalier 
thing, and, like the Cavalier party in general, too apt to 
make debauchery a mark of rectitude in politics. This cha 
racter it has never entirely shaken off. With the exception 
of a certain number of mawkish and tawdry aphorisms 
scattered over our modern plays, they still maintain, in 
some measure, their old war against the decencies and pro 
prieties of life. The truth is, the theatre has become so 
exclusively resorted to by a less serious part of the com 
munity, that it could hardly attempt to conciliate the other 
class, lest, in the vain effort, it lose the customers it has. 

If the players thus produce an article of entertainment 
inferior both in talent and in taste to the other things which 
compete for the business of amusing the public, it is not 
to be wondered at that their houses are deserted. For the 
crown which at present purchases a night's entertainment 
at the theatre to one member of a family an entertain 
ment partly childish, perhaps, and almost certain to be 
somewhat immoral that whole family can be supplied for 
a whole month with the best literary productions of the 
day from a circulating library, or it can purchase a single 
volume, which not only gives it rational entertainment and 
instruction for several nights, but remains a constant and 
ready instrument for repeating this entertainment and in 
struction whenever it is required. If we coolly reflect on 
the respective reputations which the drama and literature 



216 SPIRIT OF CIIAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

bear in the world, we will find that only a certain number 
of people wish well to the former, while the latter is an 
object of almost universal attachment and national pride. 
The fact is, that the drama has shut itself out by its own 
misconduct from the sympathies of half the public, if not 
a much larger portion. It is still dabbling in the low vices 
and mean order of feelings which prevailed in the reign of 
George the Second, or else in the nursery tales which lulled 
our cradles ; while literature, shooting far ahead, is replete 
with the superior virtues and extensive benevolences of 
the present age. And not only does literature compete 
with the stage. Music, and other accomplishments of pri 
vate life, are also now resorted to, for the purpose of fur 
nishing an innocent amusement to the family circle an 
amusement less attractive, perhaps, than the theatre, 
which, with all its errors, has still a powerful inherent 
charm, but preferred, nevertheless, as making up in sim 
plicity, harmlessness, and cheapness, what it wants in the 
power of excitement. 

When we speak of the stupidity and bad taste of the 
plays, we do not enumerate all the disadvantages of the 
theatre. As if every thing connected with the establish 
ment were doomed to be of the same order, we find the 
players also exciting disgust in all well-regulated minds by 
the strange code of morality which they have been pleased 
to set up for themselves. Of course, we do not shut our 
eyes to the numerous instances of respectable and well- 
behaved actors, which occur nowhere, perhaps, so fre 
quently as in the minor capital which we inhabit. But, as 
we remarked in a former paper, we must not have great 
generalities ruined or broken down by unimportant excep 
tions. Taken as a whole, the players are a more dissolute 
fraternity than the members of any other profession ; while 
some of them, ranking as the very highest in professional 
merit, commit transcendent breaches of the most sacred 
moral laws, as if to show how independent they are of all 
the rules of decent society. We would not gratify the 



THE DRAMA. 217 

wretched vanity which perhaps is one of the principal 
causes of those errors, by mentioning particular cases ; but 
they are too notorious to require being specified It is 
sometimes set forward as a plea for the extenuation of those 
offences, that the life of a player is more beset with temp 
tations than any other. But what an argument is here 
against the whole system of play-acting ! Another plea 
is, that the public has no business with any thing but the 
public appearance of a player has no right to think of 
their private lives ; as if a person doing all he can to de 
stroy the safeguards of domestic happiness by action and 
example, were to be equally well treated by society, as a 
person who does what is in his power to contribute to its 
happiness. Society must, in the eyes of these pleaders, 
be a slavish thing indeed, if it is supposed that it must pa 
tiently submit to every insult and injury which it may please 
the sublime caprice of a buffoon to inflict upon it. And is 
the player judged less leniently than an offender in any 
other walk of life? When a tradesman commits an out 
rage on public decency, is he cherished on account of it by 
society ? Is he not scouted for it, exactly as the player is, 
or, we should rather say, ought to be for it can hardly be 
said that he is ever condemned for his offences by the re 
gular friends of the stage, though the theatre is, on his ac 
count, still more resolutely abstained from by the good, 
who abstained from it before. 

If the players thus debase themselves by the impurity of 
their lives, and thereby render themselves unfit to be looked 
upon or listened to by the majority of society if they con 
tinue to represent dramas suited to the taste of a past age, 
or else adapted only to the sympathies of children if they 
persist in retaining about their whole system vicious forms 
of speech, indelicate gestures, and a code of moral feeling 
and action, all of which have long been pronounced into 
lerable in good society, how can they expect their theatres 
to be so prosperous as they once were, more especially 
when purer and better modes of entertainment are every 



218 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

where rising into competition with them ? The person 
who pens these thoughts is hy no means an enemy to thea 
tricals in the abstract. With the most respectful defer 
ence to those who see in dramatic entertainments an 
express hostility to the divine law, he retains the convic 
tion that they might be rendered as good and innocent a 
means as any other for producing that great end the di 
version of the public mind by amusement from the follies 
and vices of absolute vacuity. He does not consider the 
theatre, or any other amusement, so much with a reference 
^o the good which it may do, as with respect to the evil 
which it may prevent. It is clear, however, that the really 
good and pure can never become the friends of the theatre, 
so long as it remains unreformed. There must be a com 
bination among the virtuous actors to exclude the vicious 
from their body, A number of antiquated and absurd fa 
shions of the stage must be brought nearer to the standard 
of ordinary natural life. And the best literary men of the 
day must be encouraged by legislative enactments to pro 
duce a crop of new plays with a stronger moral bent than 
the generality of those now existing. Till all this is done, 
and the theatre become as noted in public fame for a friend 
liness to what is good, as it has hitherto been for the re 
verse, it must be content to occupy its present degraded 
place amongst our prevailing modes of public entertain 
ment. 



RECOGNITIONS. 

" Dignus vindice nod-us." 

IF you be a person that have lived for a long time in any 
large town, you must have ere this felt the dreadful incon 
venience of knowing and being known by every body. The 
courtesy of society demands that, on meeting any one in 
the street, of whom you have the slightest acquaintance, 



RECOGiNITIONS. 219 

you must not "affect to nod," like Alexander, but give a 
real bona fide nod, or, if you please, a bow, as a mark of 
respect or regard a practice which leads to a thousand 
disagreeable sensations in the day, till at last you almost 
resolve that your progress shall be like that of a British 
war-chariot CUTTING right and left, without regard to 
man, woman, or child. It is not that you have any ab 
stract disinclination to pay this tribute to friendship ; it is 
the frequency and the iteration of the thing that annoys 
you. You could tolerate, perhaps, a certain number of 
nods in the day / would willingly compound for twenty 
and it would be all very well if you only met a friend on 
the street once in the month or so. But this is not the 
way of it : you cannot be abroad two hours (supposing that 
you are of long standing in the town) without meeting fifty 
people and upwards, to whom you must "vail your haughty 
head," and, what is worst of all, the half of these are peo 
ple whom you met and nodded to yesterday, and the day 
before, and every day before that again, back to the crea 
tion of the world. With many of these persons, your ac 
quaintance at first was of the very slightest nature. You 
met the man in a steam-boat, and had your respective 
names mentioned by a friend. You left a room one day 
as he was entering, arid you were introduced, and, after ex 
changing only three words, made a friendly bow to each 
other, and parted. Perhaps he was introduced to you 
passingly on the street by some person to whom you had 
been introduced several years before, in the same transient 
way, by an individual whose acquaintance of you was ori 
ginally of so slight a character that you had even then for 
got for some years how it commenced. Your reminiscences 
upon the whole subject are a Generation of Shadows, 
traced back to Nothing. Possibly you sat next to him one 
night, "consule Planco," at a mason -lodge, and to this 
blessed hour have never so much as learned his name. 
When it happens that you do not see or meet these ac 
quaintances for six months after your first rencontre, the 



220 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

affair has by that time got cool enough to justify you mu 
tually in cutting each other. But in most cases it happens 
quite differently. On the very morning, perhaps, after 
having scraped acquaintance with a merry fellow in some 
promiscuous company, you meet him going abroad, like 
yourself, to his place of business. As nothing of the world, 
or its concerns, has as yet got between you and your recol 
lections of last night's conviviality, you pull up with him 
for a minute, shake hands, laugh cordially in each other's 
faces, hope each other is quite well after yesternight's busi 
ness, remark what a deal of fun there was, what a deuced 
funny fellow that was who sung the comic songs, and so 
forth ; and then, with another cordial shake of each other's 
hands, you part off, each to the serious duties of the day. 
Unfortunately, it happens that this new acquaintance of 
yours has to go to his place of business exactly at the same 
time in the morning with yourself, and that your places of 
residence and business are co-relatively in opposite situa 
tions. It is, therefore, your doom to cross each other's 
path regularly every morning at ten minutes before ten, for 
all the rest of your natural lives. Your eyes begin to open 
upon this appalling fact on the second day. You meet your 
man then, exactly at the same spot as on the morning be 
fore ; when, the conviviality of the penult evening being 
totally spent, both in respect of its effect on your mind, 
and as a subject of conversation, you stand in an agony of 
a minute's duration, talking to each other of you know not 
what, till, fortunately, perhaps, a friend conies up who is 
going your way, and you hook yourself upon him, and take 
a hurried leave of your new acquaintance. Next morning 
you content yourself with shaking your friend by the hand 
cordially without stopping. Next morning, again, the af 
fair has degenerated into a laughing nod. Next, it is an 
ordinary nod ; at which point it continues ever after, till it 
is evident to both of you, as you approach each other, that 
you are beginning to be fairly tired of existence, and wish, 
mutually, that it were all well over with you, so far as this 



RECOGNITIONS. '221 

breathing world is concerned, and the whole affair hushed 
up in the silence of the grave. 

It is not alone in the monotony of this system of recog 
nition that the misery lies. You are also put to a great 
deal of pain and difficulty, in many cases, by the rank of 
the individuals to be recognised. Every man of the world 
has occasion to be brought into contact now and then with 
persons superior to himself, but who do not scruple to make 
themselves familiar with him in his own house or place of 
business. Now, the plague is, how to treat these people 
on the street. If their rank be very far above your own, 
the case is comparatively easy; for a bow, with an eleva 
tion of the hat, is readily awarded on your part, and gra 
ciously received on his. But should his place in society be 
just a little above your own, or such as you expect to attain 
very speedily or should he be just a little longer started 
in the general race of prosperity than yourself then it is 
perplexing indeed. Man has no antipathy to the brother 
worms who are so far beneath his own level as never to be 
brought into contrast with him. A nobleman is quite at 
his ease with his tailor. But it is very different with the 
individuals who are just a little lower than ourselves, and 
liable to be confounded with us. We could tolerate the 
profanum et ignobile vulgus itself, rather than the people 
whose manners and circumstances in life are but one step be 
neath our own. Hence, one is liable to perpetual grievances 
on the street, through, what he thinks, the forwardness of 
some people, and the haughtiness of others. Alternately 
cutting and cut, on he goes, in a state of unhappiness be 
yond all description. Sometimes he avoids recognizing, 
through fear of its being offensive, a person who was fondly 
anxious to have his nod, and takes it very ill that he does 
not get it. Sometimes he is in the reverse predicament, and 
proffers a condescending bow, or intends to do so, to one 
who, putting quite a different construction on their respec 
tive degrees of consequence, coolly overlooks him. 

In short, what with one thing and another, walking on 



222 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the street is an exceedingly disagreeable exercise. For 
my part, having been long connected with the city I in 
habit, I am obliged to take a thousand ingenious expe 
dients in order to get along with any degree of comfort. 
For one thing, I would sooner walk some miles barefooted 
over broken glass, than parade on the principal streets of 
the city at high twelve. If I were to attempt a passage 
that way, I might go as I have been told Oechlenschlager 
the Danish poet does through the streets of Copenhagen, 
my hat in my hand, and my body in a perpetual inclina 
tion. I have to seek all possible kinds of by-ways, 
through alleys profound and obscure ; and when I cross a 
thoroughfare, it is with the same dogged straight-forward 
look with which a man swims across a dangerous river. 
When I do happen, in a moment of facility or confidence, 
to venture upon an open street, I have all kinds of expe 
dients for avoiding and diminishing the pains of recogni 
tion. When you see an acquaintance approaching, you 
must consider the relative circumstances. Much depends 
on the place of meeting much on the time much on the 
crowded or empty state of the streets, and much, of course, 
on the degree of your intimacy with him, and the distance 
of time since you last met. If it be a vacant street, and 
not a business time of the day, and six months since you 
last met him, you are in for a quarter of an hour's palaver 
as sure as you live, and hardly even a parting then, unless 
you can either of you manage to get up a good witticism, 
under cover of which you may escape. If the street be 
crowded, and the time a busy one, you are tolerably safe, 
even although it should have been a twelvemonth since 
you met before. In this case, you fly past with a hurried 
nod, which seems to say, " We are busy just now, but will 
have another opportunity of stopping to speak." This is 
a nod of adjournment, as it were, and it is one of great 
satisfaction to both parties, for both argue, of course 
though they don't put that into the nod that, as it is a 
twelvemonth since they last met, it may be another before 



RECOGNITIONS. 223 

they meet again. Should you meet a man in a vacant 
street, even in the busiest part of the day, then the former 
circumstance annuls the latter, and you must stand and 
deliver, even although you be too late for an appointment 
of the most interesting character. On the other hand, if 
you meet your man in the leisurely part of the day, in a 
crowded street, you get oft* with a nod, pretending to your 
self that you are carried away by the current. Sometimes 
you may not take advantage of your good fortune in this 
last case, but so bring it about that you get into collision 
with your friend, and begin a conversation. In this case, 
even although you have only asked him how he does not 
caring in the least what he has to answer and though you 
positively have not another idea to interchange with him, 
he finds it necessary to disengage himself from the throng 
in order to reply. You now get upon the curb-stone, or 
upon the causeway, where, of course, you have no more 
advantage from the crowded state of the street than a fish 
has of a river after it has been thrown upon the bank. You 
are now in the same predicament as if you had met your 
friend in the same cool part of the day in a perfectly empty 
street, and therefore, when he has answered your precious 
question as to his health, you are as fairly in for a quarter of 
an hour of wretched, bald, wishy-washy conversation about 
all kinds of nothings that you don't care one farthing about, 
as ever you were in your life. The only thing that can now 
save you is either a joke to laugh yourselves asunder upon, 
a crowd raised at a distant part of the street by some such 
matter as a child ridden over by a coach, or else, what is not 
a bad means of separation, though sometimes dangerous, you 
cut off one grievous encumbrance by taking on another ; that 
is, you see another friend coming up your way, and, pre 
tending you have something to say to him, shake off the 
old love and take on with the new : in which case it is not 
improbable that you spend longer time at the end of the 
street with this last individual than you might have had to 
spend with the former one if you had continued with him, 



24 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

and only given the other man a passing nod ; but, of course, 
that is all the fortune of war, and, having done what seemed 
best under the circumstances, you must rather blame fate 
than your own imprudence. Consider well, however, in 
such a case, whether you are likely to get soonest off with 
the new or the old love ; for if you take on with a bore of 
ten minutes' power, in order to get off with one of only 
five, merely because he is going your way, and promises 
no interruption in the first instance, you may only fall 
into Scylla, seeking to avoid Charybdis. 

After all, as in every matter arising from the affairs of 
this world, a great deal of our happiness, so far as it is 
concerned by the system of recognition, lies with our 
selves, If we are prudent, and take counsel from expe 
rience, we may avoid much of this nodding and bowing 
misery which would otherwise fall to our share. A man, 
for instance, should not be always goggling and staring 
about him ; otherwise he will be sure to fall in with flying 
nods, which he could as well dispense with, if he does 
not even hit some person, perhaps, on the other side of 
the way, who, not having seen him for a long time, thinks 
it is duty Lord confound him ! to come across the 
Hellespont of mud, and shake the spirits out of him with 
half an hour of tediousness and common-place. When 
you debouch from your door, never look along the street 
in the direction you are not to travel, or ten to one but 
you see some one who, having the infelicity, poor devil, to 
catch your eye, must put himself on to a canter to come 
up to you ; and so you get mutually entangled, perhaps for 
half the day. I give this caution with a particular em 
phasis ; for I have observed that nine out of every ten men 
look back in the way described, as if it were one of the in 
voluntary motions or inclinations of human nature. As 
you are walking along, never cast your regards upon any 
one coming obliquely across the street, or in all probability 
you are shot dead by an eye of your acquaintance, which, 
if it had not hit you, would have passed on innocuous. The 



RECOGNITIONS. 



eye is the principal mischief in all these cases. A man is 
often snared by that part of him, and dragged a hundred 
yards along a dirty street, for all the world like a silly sal 
mon hooked by the nose, and laid, after half a mile of 
tugging and hauling, exhausted on the shore. Keep your 
eye well to yourself, and you are tolerably safe ; for of 
this you may be assured, no man will come up to attract 
your attention, unless he be a country cousin, who was 
just looking about for you. Every mother's son of them 
is actuated by the same principles with yourself, and is glad 
to escape all the nodding he can. So reciprocal is this 
feeling, that many persons whom you are taking means to 
avoid, will, if you observe them narrowly, be found to 
be doing all they can to assist in the process. If you pre 
tend, for instance, that you cannot see that gentleman there 
coming aslant the way, on account of the intense bright 
ness of the sun, you will see out at the tail of your eye 
that he is pretending to be as much put about by the 
sunshine as yourself, and is doing all he can to shade his 
eyes from Phoebus and you, exactly in the same fashion 
with yourself. If you walk, as you ought to do, with your 
eyes fixed below what painters call the point of sight, but 
suddenly raise them for a moment, in order to look about 
you, it is ten to one but you see your very bosom friend 
your confessor the man whom you wear in your heart of 
hearts in the act of sneakingly withdrawing his eye from 
your countenance, for the purpose of getting past you un 
noticed. Take no scorn on account of these things, but 
put it all down rather to the strength of friendship ; for 
can there be any stronger test of that sentiment, than the 
desire of saving those whom we love from any thing that 
is disagreeable to them ? 

It has been already remarked, that if you be in the re 
gular habit of meeting and nodding to a person every now 
and then, the system is kept up till death do you part. 
On the other hand, if you can avoid seeing a person for 
*ome considerable time, the nod becomes effete, and you 



'2-2G SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ever after see, as if you saw not, each other. Sometimes, 
however, one gets a great relief in the midst of a fixed and 
hopeless nodding acquaintance, by happening to meet once 
more at the social board in some friend's house, when you 
re-invigorate the principle, gather fresh intimacy, and per 
haps, after all, take refuge from the unnecessary mono 
tony of nodding terms in a serious friendship. 

If you can help yourself by this means, it may be all 
very well, though certainly it is rather hard that one 
should be forced into an intimacy with a man merely be 
cause he crosses your path rather oftener than the most 
of your other slight acquaintances. The best way, how 
ever, to lessen this part of the evils of life, is to walk with 
as little circumspection as possible. So ends my preachment 
about RECOGNITIONS. 



THE LADYE THAT I LOVE. 

Were I a doughty cavalier, 

On fire for high-born dame, 
To win her smile, with sword and spear, 

I'd seek a warrior's fame ; 
But since no more stern deeds of blood 

The gentle fair may move, 
I'll woo in softer better mood, 

The ladye that I love. 
For helmet bright with steel and gold, 

And plumes that flout the sky, 
I'll bear a mind of hardier mould, 

And thoughts that sweep as high. 
For scarf athwart my corslet cast, 

With her fair name y-wove, 
I'll have her pictured in my breast 

The ladye that I love. 
No mettled steed through battle-throng, 

Shall bear me bravely on, 
But pride shall make my spirit strong, 

Where honours may be won : 
Among the great of mind and heart, 

My prowess I will prove ; 
And thus I'll win, by gentler art, 

The ladye that I love. 

R. C. 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 227 



PAY YOUR DEBT! 

JOCK COLQUHOUN was a clever journeyman painter of the 
famous Old Town of Edinburgh, very much given, unfor 
tunately, to Saturday evening potations, which was the 
cause why he never found himself, poor fellow, any richer 
one Monday than another, and generally lived during the 
rest of the week in, to say the least of it, a very desultory 
manner. Jock was a long slip of a lad, with a bright intel 
ligent face and a wofully battered hat, and the whole man 
of him was encased, from neck to heel, in one glazed suit 
I was going to say, of clothes, but I should rather say, 
of oil-paint ; for, to tell the truth, his attire consisted ra 
ther more of the one material than the other. He was 
universally reputed as a very clever workman ; but, then, 
every body said, what matters it that he can make five 
shillings a- week more than any of his fellow-journeymen, 
if he is sure every Saturday, when he gets his wages, 
to go upon the scuff", and so pass the half of the week in 
spending, not in gaining? Jock, however, had many good 
points about him ; and it was, perhaps, less owing to his 
own dispositions than to the influence of evil company, 
that he got into such bad habits. He was such a good 
fellow that he would at any time part his money with an 
old crony out of bread, or treat to a can or a bottle any 
working brother who had got through his money a little 
before him, and who happened to feel rather dry upon 
some sunshiny Wednesday. In his profession he was 
matchless at all superior kinds of work. If his employers 
had any thing to do that required an extraordinary degree 
of taste or dexterity, Jock was set to it, and he invariably 
managed it (beer and whisky aside) to their entire satis 
faction. Jock might have long ago been foreman to his 
masters : nay, he might have set up as a general artist, 
and, with perseverance equal to his talent, would have 



228 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

been sure to do well. But gill-stoups were his lions in the 
way, and the deceitfulness of drink had beset him ; and 
Jock, from year to year, was just the same glazed and bat 
tered, but withal rather spruce-looking fellow, as ever. 

It would have been altogether impossible for any such 
man as Jock to carry on the war, if he had not had one 
howff,* above all others, where he enjoyed a little credit. 
This was an eating-house in the Canongate, kept by one 
Luckie Wishart, a decent widow of about forty, with four 
or five children, who had been pleased to cast an eye of 
particular favour upon the shining exterior of our hero. 
A pot sable upon a ground argent pointed out this house 
to the passers by, even if they had not been informed of 
its character by the savoury steam which always proceeded 
from it between the hours of one and five P. M., and cer 
tain spectral and unfinished pies which ran in a row along 
the sole of her little window, level with the street, as well 
as a larger display of the same article on a board half way 
down her somewhat steep and whitewashed stair. Luckie 
Wishart also sold liquors ; but she was far too respectable 
a person to let Jock spend his wages at one bouse in her 
house. She always, as she said, shanked him off, when 
ever he came there of a Saturday night, and it was only 
when his pockets were empty, and no provisions to be had 
for the working days of the week, that he resorted to her. 
Generally about the Tuesdays, Jock came briskly down 
into her culinary Tartarus, quite sobered and hungry, 
sending his voice briskly along the passage before him, as 
if defending himself by anticipation from a shower of re 
proaches which he knew she would bestow upon him : 
" Nothing of the kind," he would cry ; "nothing of the 
kind all a mistake 'pon my honour." There was gene 
rally, it may be supposed, fully as much scolding and railing 
as he could have anticipated ; but the end of the jest 
always was, that Jock got snug into some corner of Luckie's 

Alehouse of particular resort. 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 229 

own particular den, where he was regaled with a plate of 
something or other, garnished always with a few last words 
of rebuke from the lady, like the droppings after a thunder 
storm, which he always contrived, however, to stomach 
with his beef, without manifesting any very great degree 
of irritation. There is something ominous in the act of 
drawing in one's stool at the fireside of a comfortable wi 
dow. It is apt to make a young man feel rather ticklish, 
even although he may never have thought of her before, 
except as a good cook. So it was with Jock, and the idea 
might have been fatal to his visits to Luckie Wishart's (for, 
to speak the truth, she was no great beauty), if dire hun 
ger, which tames lions, had not absolutely compelled him 
to continue the practice. In general, when Jock came in 
with his week's gains, he flung a few shillings upon the 
dresser, as part payment of what he had ate and drank 
during the past few days, reserving the rest for the bouse- 
royal. But, notwithstanding all these occasional deposits 
to account, his score got always the longer the longer, until 
it at last went fairly off at the bottom of a cupboard door, 
and had to be " brought forward" on the end of a chest of 
drawers. 

" That's a shocking bad hat you've got," said Luckie to 
him one day, without any idea that she was anticipating a 
favourite English phrase by some years. " Of course, 
there's nae chance of such a drucken blackguard as you 
ever being able to buy a new ane. But what wad you 
say, John, if I were to gie ye ane mysel' ?" 

" I would say, much oblige t'ye, ma'am," answered Jock, 
now for the first time in his life called by his proper Chris 
tian name. 

" Here is one, then," said the widow, and at the same 
time produced a decent-looking chapeau, which, she said, 
had belonged to him that was away meaning her late hus 
band and had only been three times on his head at the 
kirk, when, puir man, he was carried without it to the 
kirk-yard. 



230 SPIRIT Ol< CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Jock accepted the hat with great thankfulness, and made 
his old one skimmer into Luckie's fire, where, it is needless 
to say, it was speedily roasted in its own grease. 

" Dear sake, Jock, man," said Mrs Wishart, some days 
afterwards, " what kindo' a landlady hae ye got at hame? 
She maun be nae hand at the shirts, I reckon ; for fient a 
bit can ane ken ye on a Monday frae what ye are on a 
Saturday. Ye may be as touzly as ye like i' the outside o* 
your claes, but I wad aye like to see a man decent-like 
next the skin." 

" Deed, mistress," said Jock, "to let ye into a secret, I 
have nae great stock o' linen, and whiles Mrs Ormiston's 
a wee hurried in getting a shirt ready for me. I'm a gude 
deal between the hand and the mouth in that respect." 

" Ye're just the greatest ne'erdoweel ever I kenned," re 
plied Mrs Wishart ; " but yet, reprobate as ye are, I canna 
think o' seeing ye gaun that gate frae ae week's end to an- 
ither. Here's four gude shirts that I hae unco little use 
for now-a-days. Better ye should wear them, than that 
they should gang to the moths. Tak them hame wi' ye, 
man, and mak yoursel' something trig, and dinna gang to 
think that I'm aye to be gi'ing ye the buffet without the 
bite." 

Jock did as he was bid, and towards the end of the 
week Luckie Wishart asked him "if he ever thought o' 
taking a walk on a Sunday evening wi' his lass to Restal- 
rig, to treat her wi' curds and cream, or ony thing o' that 
kind r 

" Oh, I daresay I have, mistress," said Jock, "in my 
day. But," added he, looking askance at his resplendent 
sleeves, " somehow or other I've fallen out of a suit of 
Sunday claes, and, of course, nae lass '11 gang wi' a chiel 
like a beggar." 

" Weel, Jock," said the lady, " I think ye canna do 
better than just step into my auld gudeman's claes bodily, 
and let us hae nae mair wark about it." 

This was accompanied with a look so significant,, thai 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 231 

Jock could not pretend to misunderstand it. He all at oner 
felt as if the stool which he had drawn in towards the fire 
side was burning under him, while all the burnished covers 
on the opposite wall looked like so many moons dancing 
in troubled water. " Od, mistress," he stammered out, 
"are ye serious?" 

" Ay, that I am," answered she ; " and dinna let your 
modesty wrang ye, my man, an' ye be wise. Ye see even- 
thing here ready to your hand ; and if ye just be steady a 
bit, as I'm sure ye will be, wi' me to look after baith your 
meat and your winnings, ye may be the snuggest painter 
lad in the town. What wi' what ye can make, and what 
wi' what / can make, we'll be very weel, or I'm muckle 
mista'en." 

" But, Luckie," said Jock, " I maun get my am consent 
first ; and that, I'm feared, it'll not be sae easy to get. 
There was a lass " 

" Oh, very weel, John," said Mrs Wishart ; "of course 
ae man may lead a horse to the water, but twenty winna 
i^ar him drink. There's some folk that dinna ken what's 
gude for them, and ye're ane o' them. But see, lad," she 
added, opening up the cupboard door, " what a score ye 
hae here ! Twa pounds fifteen shillings and eightpencc. 
When will ye be gaun to pay that '?" 

" I suppose I maun pay't when I can," said Jock, strid 
ing sturdily up stairs into the street. 

Next day he was served with a summons to the sheriff's 
court for two pounds fifteen shillings and eightpence, and 
as he never appeared to dispute the claim, a writ was al 
lowed against him, warranting either the incarceration of 
his person, or the distraining of his goods. Goods Jock 
had none ; his person therefore came into immediate re 
quest among certain individuals of whose companionship 
he was not ambitious. It would be vain to tell all the 
strange miracles by which he was enabled for some weeks 
to elude the pursuit instituted against him. Sometimes 
as the officers were entering at the door, he was escaping 



232 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

by the back window. Once he had to drop himself down 
two stories into an alley. At another time, he sprang 
across a gulf about ten feet wide, between two garret win 
dows, nine floors from the ground. This course of life 
could not continue long. He could not get rest any where 
to pursue his ordinary business, and of course he soon 
found himself upon very short allowance both as to meat 
and drink. Just at this crisis, Jock heard of an expedition 
which was about to sail from Leith, for the purpose of co 
lonising Poyais, and through the intervention of an old 
chum, who was going thither, he was permitted to join 
the corps. On the night before the vessel was to sail, he 
skulked down to Newhaven, and got on board along with 
the family of his friend. He now, for the first time during 
three weeks, found himself, as he thought, safe from the 
avenging persecution of Luckie Wishart. For one happy 
night he slept amidst a parcel of sacks in a corner of the 
cabin, surrounded on all hands by squalid and squalling 
children, whose cries, however, were nothing to the dread 
which he had recently entertained for the fell Dido of the 
Canongate. Next morning, the sun rose bright, the sails 
were set loose, the heart of every man on board beat high 
with hope, and Jock's bosom's lord sat lightly on his throne 

when, oh manacles and fetters ! a boat came alongside, 

containing a whole bevy of sheriff's officers. Jock now 
thought that it was all over with him ; for, simple man, he 
believed that he was the sole individual in request. The 
case, however, was quite different. On a demand being 
made for admission into the vessel, the whole of the pas 
sengers, with one consent, raised their voices against it. 
" What ! let these fellows in ! as well give up the whole 
expedition !" The officers pleaded to have at least a re 
presentative sent on board, to show their case to the cap 
tain, which, after a great deal of difficulty, was consented 
to. One messenger was accordingly hoisted on board, and 
proceeded to call the names of the persons for whom they 
had captions Jock Colquhoun among the number. But 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 233 

personalities of this kind were not to be endured. The 
passengers rose in absolute mutiny against the captain, de 
manded that he should instantly proceed on the voyage, 
even although one member of the expedition was yet to 
join ; and as they feared to let the boat once more approach 
the vessel, they insisted that the messenger should be re 
tained where he was, and carried out to Poyais and back 
again, as a punishment for his temerity. It was a mad 
affair altogether, and so small an addition to the general 
frenzy was of little moment. So the boatswain, or some 
body else, " gave the dreadful word, "and, notwithstanding 
all the remonstrances of the detenu, which were both loud 
and vehement, the lessening boat of the officers was soon 
seen unwillingly rowing to land, while, instead of any white 
hand to wave adieu to those on board, the fist of big Pate 
Forsyth, the chief of the fraternity, was observed shaking 
in impotent rage over the stern, as much as to say to the 
captain, " If ever you come back to Leith, ye ken what 
ye'll get." 

Jock soon found himself tolerably comfortable in his new 
situation. He had, no doubt, come on board without 
much luggage, and he was still the same greasy Pict as 
ever in respect of his attire. But then he was not, after 
all, much behind his neighbours ; for if ever a fit garrison 
for the care of Adullam was collected since the days of 
King David, it was this ship's company. The whole set 
resembled a troop of strolling players, going to act a grand 
historical drama in some country town. A gentleman in 
tartan trousers was to be a kind of Cincinnatus, alternating 
between the plough and the cares of state. A young lad, 
in a blue bonnet, was to be Chamberlain, and Supreme 
Director of Literature and the Arts. Another carried with 
him all the materials of a bank, except credit and specie. 
The other characters and properties, to speak theatrically, 
were all on the same scale ; and if a state could have been 
founded as easily as a castle of cards is built, or a puppet- 
show set in motion, Poyais could have immediately taken 



234 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

its place among the nations of the earth. In such a sys 
tem it was easy to find a place for Jock. The Chamberlain 
was good enough to divest himself, in favour of this new 
friend, of that part of his commission which referred to the 
fine arts. Jock was therefore styled from this day forward, 
Director Colquhoun ; and every one, including himself, 
agreed that the case could have only been improved, if he 
had happened to have any paints. However, nobody pre 
tended to doubt that, so far as the fine arts could be cul 
tivated without materials, Mr Colquhoun would prove 
himself an efficient member of the corps. 

The voyage was a pleasant one, and during the whole 
time nothing was to be heard in the vessel but paeans of 
homage and gratitude to the Cazique Macgrcgor, who had 
sent them out to take possession of his territories. The 
only individual who did not partake of the general joy was 
the poor detenu, whose long gaunt person did not agree 
with a tropical climate, and who, therefore, sickened, and 
threatened to die before reaching the land. It was in 
vain that the Chamberlain promised to make him Lord 
High Constable of the Kingdom, if he would only keep up 
his spirits. Like the poor sparrow, who, in its last mo 
ment, refuses the very finest crumbs held to its mouth, he 
said it was all humbug to make him these offers, when it 
was clear he could never live in such a hot part of the 
world as this. He would lay his death, he said, to their 
door, and, if at all possible, he would be sure to haunt 
them after death. To the great grief of the company, the 
unfortunate messenger died on the very day when they cast 
anchor off the shores of Poyais. 

About seventy or eighty individuals, from the Old Town 
of Edinburgh forming the staff of a great empire now 
landed on a flat bushy part of the Mosquito Territory 
ominous name ! in the Bay of Honduras, with the expec 
tation of immediately falling into the enjoyment of all the 
luxuries and pleasures which this world can bestow. They 
were, indeed, somewhat surprised to find that every thing 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 235 

was still in its primeval state, and that even their houses 
were as yet to be built. However, having found one small 
opening in the forest of brushwood, they established them 
selves there, with such goods and chattels as they had ; 
and their first duty was to give a decent burial to the de 
tenu, whose body they had brought ashore for that purpose. 
A grave having been dug, the Chamberlain, assuming the 
character of High Priest of the Kingdom, for want oC a 
better, mounted an old shirt over his clothes, by way of 
sacerdotal vestment, and proceeded to read the funeral 
service of the church of England over the body. In the 
very middle of the most solemn part of this ceremony, a 
large bird, with a curious beaky face, somewhat resembling 
that of the deceased, alighted upon a tree immediately above 
the funeral group, and cried, with a loud shrill voice, what 
was interpreted by all present (with the aid, no doubt, 
of a stricken conscience) into the phrase, " Pay your 
debt !" 

The colonists saw and heard with terror, believing that 
the spirit which had lately animated the body before them 
was now addressing them in character, according to his 
threat before death ; and, but for the protection which 
daylight always gives to the superstitious, the whole set, 
including both the civil and military departments of the 
state, would have fled from the spot. The Chamberlain 
saw the nature of the case, and drew hurriedly towards 
a conclusion ; but yet, at every brief pause of his voice, 
there still came in the ear-piercing cry, " Pay your debt !" 
Before the grave had been closed, another and another 
bird of the same species drew towards the spot, and each 
lifted up his voice to the same tune " Pay your debt" 
" Pay your debt" " Pay your debt" till the whole forest 
seemed possessed by one spirit, and the ghost of the she 
riff's officer appeared to the distracted senses of the settlers 
to have dispersed itself into a whole legion of harpies. 
The fact was, that the birds were brought forth by the 
coolness of the evening, according to their usual habits, 



236 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

and were now innocently amusing themselves with their 
accustomed cry, without the least idea of any personality 
towards the Poyaisians. The Chamberlain of the colo 
nists, who had learned from books of travels that many 
American birds uttered something like a sentence of Eng 
lish as their habitual cry, endeavoured to assuage the alarm 
of his companions ; but, nevertheless, a very general sense 
of terror remained. 

" It may be all very true," said Jock Colquhoun, " that 
the birds of this country have each a particular word to 
say ; but, od, it's gayan queer that the Poyais bird should 
have pitched upon a thing that jags our consciences sae 
sair." 

The first night was spent in a very uncomfortable man 
ner. To a day of intense heat succeeded a cold dewy 
night, which struck the limbs of the unprotected settlers 
with such severe cramps, that hardly a man could stir next 
morning. Their sleep, moreover, was broken occasionally 
by the cry of " Pay your debt !" which a few of their fea 
thered friends kept up at intervals all night. Next day, 
instead of setting about the erection of their metropolis 
and sea-port, as was intended, they had to attend each 
other's sick-beds. Before night several of the women and 
children had expired. Next day, and the next again, the 
same sickness continued ; and in less than a week, half 
their number were under the earth. Jock, who had for 
tunately escaped every mishap except a rheumatic shoulder, 
now began to think how much more comfortable he would 
have been in Luckie Wishart's laigh shop in the Canongate 
of Edinburgh, than he was on this inhospitable coast, 
where there was no prospect of raising so much as a potato 
for a twelvemonth. ** What a fool I was," said he, " not 
to make my quarters good there, as the honest woman pro 
posed ! Oh, to be walking wi' her down the King's Park 
on a Sunday nicht, even wi' a' the five bairns running after 
us ! I'se warrant the gardens at Restalrig hae nae birds 
about the bushes that tell folk to pay their debt ; naething 



PAY YOUR DEBT ! 237 

o' the kind there, unless it be the boord, black letters on 
a white ground, that says, ' Pay on delivery.' " 

Hardship had now dispelled from every mind the mag 
nificent ideas with which they had hitherto been inspired. 
If the vessel had yet remained on the coast, the whole of 
the surviving company, prime minister and all, would have 
willingly exchanged their brilliant appointments under the 
Cazique for a snug berth on board. But it had departed 
immediately after landing them ; and there only remained 
the chance that some other vessel would pass that way, 
and take pity on their distress. This, fortunately, hap 
pened in the course of a few days. A vessel bound to 
Belize came along the shore, and, on a signal from the 
unfortunate Poyaisians, sent a boat to inquire into their 
case. As only a few remained alive, it was soon arranged 
that they should be carried to the port for which the vessel 
was bound. With grateful and subdued hearts, and cast 
ing many a mournful glance towards the graves of their 
friends, the small remnant of the Poyais expedition betook 
themselves to the boat, and sailed off to the vessel. As 
a sort of parting admonition, a bird came up at the moment 
of their departure from the land, and, pronouncing one 
shrill, clear " Pay your debt !" flew off into the interior. 

It were needless to relate the various hardships and ad 
ventures which befel Jock Colquhoun before he regained 
his native shore. Be it enough, that he immediately 
sought the cozy den of Luckie Wishart, and paid his debt 
in the way originally desired by the lady, who, under the 
name of Mrs Colquhoun, continued for many years, with 
the assistance of her reformed husband, to regale the good 
people of the Canongate. 

" A flichty chield," she used to remark to her female 
friends, " was whyles the better o' finding the grimd o' his 
stamack." 



238 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



CHILDREN. 

I MAY begin with the question of Henry the Fourth OT 
France, when found by an ambassador at romps with his 
children, "Are you a father?" If you are, we may go 
on with the game if not, you must pass to the next arti 
cle. A curious thing it is, this same fact, that children in 
general are only interesting in the eyes of those who are 
parents, while brats in particular are held as pests by all 
but their immediate father and mother. Some lightheaded 
author has compared the rush of children which takes place 
at the conclusion of family dinners, to the incursion of the 
Goths and Vandals. Perhaps it is all true, that children 
out of place are not agreeable ; but is any thing agreeable 
that is out of place? Children, abstracted from the 
homely details of their management, and the anxiety which 
they always occasion, are a delightful study a study, I 
maintain, fitted alike to engage the speculations of the phi 
losophic, and the affections of the benevolent, mind. I 
cannot, I must say, form the idea of a man of extended 
views and sympathies, who does not like children. 

Among the grown-up part of mankind, there is always 
abundance of envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness. This 
fact I consider with reference to the circumstances in which 
men are placed, and I plainly conceive that where exist 
ence is only to be supported by an unceasing struggle, and 
where self-love is so perpetually receiving injury, it is 
needless to expect that men should be much better than 
they are. In children, however, we see no possibility of 
any rivalship : they are a harmless little people at this 
moment, and we run no chance of being jostled by them 
in our course of life, for many years to come. There is, 
therefore, no reason for envy, hatred, or uncharitableness 
with them. On the contrary, in our intercourse with 
children, our self-love is undergoing a perpetual compli- 



CHILDREN. 239 

ment. The appeal which they are constantly making 
from their own silently-confessed weakness, to our tacitly- 
acknowledged strength, soothes and delights us. A fel 
low-creature lies unconsciously abandoned to our mercy 
unconsciously unable to resist. It asks for nothing, for it 
cannot ; but it does not expect harm. There is the charm. 
It imputes to us none of our original sins of envy, hatred, 
and uncharitableness, but seems to take it for granted that 
we are blanch and stainless like itself. It puts forth its little 
arms to us, with a perfect confidence in our gentler and better 
nature, and we feel it impossible to be evil when we are so 
sincerely understood to be good. We give, then, the love 
and faith that are demanded, and press the offenceless type 
of our original and perfect nature, with all the hues and all 
the odours of paradise rife around it, to our heart of hearts. 
The whole external deportment of a child is delightful. 
Its smile always so ready when there is no distress, and 
so soon recurring when that distress has passed away is 
like an opening of the sky, showing heaven beyond. Tales 
are told of murderers, who, after revelling in the blood of 
many adults, were at length arrested by the smile of a 
child, and suddenly became innocent, because they were 
supposed to be so. The grasp of its little hand around one 
of our ringers its mighty little crow when excited by the 
playfulness of its nurse its manful spring upon the little 
woolpack legs that refuse to bear its weight are all traits 
of more or less pleasantness. Then, the eye of a child 
who can look unmoved into that " well undefiled," in 
which heaven itself seems to be reflected ? Whether the 
gem be of sweet pellucid blue, or of the mysterious and 
unsearchable black, what meanings unexpressed, unintel 
ligible, reside within ! the germ of a whole life of feelings 
and ideas. Human nature is familiar in all its bearings to 
most men ; yet how novel does every symptom of it ap 
pear, as first shown forth by a child ! Every little imper 
fect function every step in the attainment of physical 
power every new trait of intelligence, as they one by one 



240 SPIRIT OF CIIAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

arise in the infantine intellect, like the glory of night, startl 
ing star by star into the sky, is hailed with a heart-burst 
of rapture and surprise, as if we had never known any 
thing so clever or so captivating before. The point thus 
gained is never lost. The darling child is reminded per 
petually of the idea he lately seemed to comprehend, or of 
the word he seemed nearly able to pronounce, or of the 
little action he attempted to perform ; and thus the whole 
of his little stock of accomplishments is carefully kept to 
gether, liable to a constant increase. Hosannas of affec 
tion celebrate every step of his progress towards maturity, 
and fresh blessings are showered upon his holy and harm 
less head, for every manifestation of the presence of the 
godlike mind. Nor is this interest in his advance con 
fined to those whose daily joy it is to fold him to the 
beatings of a kindred heart. Almost every one who has 
occasion to observe the march of infant intellect feels an 
instinctive satisfaction in the contemplation. It seems, 
indeed, to be part of the grand and wise design, that all 
the mature of the human race should be concerned re 
specting the progress of the young : it is the silent working 
of nature towards the general good. Without a principle 
of this kind constantly at work and it is always at work, 
in the attentions of the reflecting and grave, as well as in 
the apparently senseless prattle of the nurse the moral 
world would be in danger of standing still. 

The love of parents for their children so far as it is not 
a sentiment arising from the contemplation of beauty, or 
innocence, or helplessness is a kind of self-love. Yet no 
one ever thinks of imputing to a parent, as a fault, that he 
has a high appreciation of his children. The truth is, 
though in one sense self-love, it is, in another, the most 
generous and s'elf-abandoning feeling in nature. The world 
is also aware instinctively, that the fondness of parents for 
their children is necessary for their protection and educa 
tion ; and, therefore, if there were no other palliation of 
the passion, it would at least be convenient. In virtue of 



CHILDREN. 241 

these excuses, a parent can indulge in all the pleasures of 
the most intense, devoted, devouring, self-appreciation, 
and yet have none of the usual reproach attending it. He 
can admire himself in his children, to a greater extent than 
ever did Narcissus in the fountain, and yet there is no 
chance that he changes into a daffodil. He can call him 
self every pretty name in the nurse's vocabulary, and yet 
no one will ever accuse him of flattering his own person. 
He may fondle and hug himself till his miniature counter 
part loses both breath and patience ; he may expend upon 
his little self a thousand compliments and praises ; and yet 

it will never be insinuated that Mr is on uncommonly 

good terms with Mr This, it must be remarked, is 

one of the-; compensations allowed by Providence for the 
anxiety and pains attendant upon the keeping of a child. 

It is a very common impression among those who are 
practically unacquainted with children, that there is an im 
mense deal of trouble incurred in their management. There 
is, no doubt, much trouble, but there is also much to al 
leviate it. Women, to whom, as mothers or as nurses, 
this trouble chiefly falls, are rarely heard to complain of 
it. The labour is either kindly and agreeable in itself, or 
it is rewarded by the generous pleasure of knowing that 
those are helped who cannot help themselves. There are 
few duties, it may be said, by which women appear to 
feel less oppressed, than the labour of managing children. 
What is very strange, it seems equally lightsome to the 
hired attendant as to the mother herself. There appears 
to be a general feeling among women that the neglect of, 
or the least cruelty, to a child, is the most monstrous of 
fence in nature : it is the high treason of the sex. In the 
more refined circles of society, where it is convenient to 
employ deputies, this certain kindness of every female heart 
towards a child is very fortunate : in the lower circles it is 
still more so. There many mothers are compelled to de 
pend much upon the good-will of neighbours for the atten 
tions necessary to their families. The infant is, indeed, in 



"242 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

some measure the protege of a little vicinity, rather than 
of any individual. It is handed about from one hand to 
another, and kept for a little by each, so as to enable the 
mother to attend to other duties that are still more indis 
pensable such as the preparation of her family meals, or, 
perhaps, the work necessary for obtaining them. There 
is in this no danger for the child, and not much obligation 
for the parents. The poor are in the constant practice of 
performing acts of kindness to each other : they are their 
own best friends ; and their condition would be quite in 
supportable if it were otherwise. The attentions, there 
fore, which one neighbour bestows upon another's child, 
are felt as a very slight burden by the particular party 
obliging, while the aggregate of many such little favours 
forms an immense relief to the mother. Then, every one 
knows that if the case were her own, as it perhaps may be, 
the individual whom she now obliges would be ready and 
glad to oblige her in turn. If the trouble of managing 
children had in it any thing really disagreeable, this uni 
versal system of mutual serviceableness could never obtain 
among the poor. 

It is surprising how much children tend to humanise 
and soften the stern scene of general life. The man who 
is so fortunate as to possess one or more children, finds it 
less easy to be wicked than if he had none ; and, however 
evilly disposed any man may be, he will hardly give way 
to his wicked tendencies in the presence of his children. 
There is something holy in a child. Its innocence puts 
it in association with all gentle and devout feelings ; and 
scarcely any parent will venture deliberately to contami 
nate the bright image of heavenly purity, which the Father 
of heaven has himself placed under his charge. Even the 
infidel can never form the wish that his child should be the 
same ; he may dare many things, upon the peril of his own 
soul, but he cannot dare to hazard the soul of his child. 
His own mind may be torn by the demons of doubt and 
error, but he will keep his child steadfast if he can, melt- 



CHILDREN. 243 

ing nightly at the infantine prayer, which he cannot offer 
up himself. If a parent has been imprudent, and now 
suffers the bitter effects of his folly, in misfortunes which 
have exposed him to the contempt of mankind, here still 
is a resource. He can steal by night to the couch of his 
children, and, beside the unconscious babes, whose fate 
hangs all upon his, and who yet reprove not, in their silent 
innocence, the guilt which has exposed them to misery, 
weep himself into good resolutions, and into comfort. 

One of the chief sources of a parent's pleasure in con 
templating children, lies in the prospects which it is im 
possible to avoid forming regarding their future lives. No 
parent ever contemplates an unhappy fate for hig child : 
all the look-forward is sunny as its own sweet eyes stain 
less as its uncorrupted heart. There is even hardly any 
parent who rests content with hoping that his children will 
be as fortunate and as happy as himself. They must be 
much more so : they must reach heights of distinction far 
above any he had ever presumed to expect for himself. 
To the parent who has occasion to lament his unhappy 
circumstances in life, what treasured consolation there is 
in these fond imaginings ! The father, as he broods moodily 
over enterprises blighted, and a spirit confined for im 
mediate bread to some narrow scene of action unworthy of 
its energies one casual glance alights upon the fair brow 
of his child, the bitter present gives way to the glorious 
future, and all his own griefs are repaid by the prospective 
happiness of his offspring. The mother who looks back 
to the comforts of an early home, unhappily exchanged for 
a scene of care and woe, feels, as she bends over her un 
conscious infant, her former happiness arise in the pro 
spects of that endeared being, and is for the time consoled. 
It is this habit of forming flattering anticipations respecting 
the fates of our children, that renders the loss of them in 
infancy so very severe a calamity. In reality, the life of 
a. child is of little value : it has as yet cost little, either in 
.?are or expense ; and, unless in particular circumstances, 



244 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

it holds but an unimportant place in society. Yet it is in 
this very want of all probation of its value that the poig 
nancy of the loss chiefly lies. We lament it, not at all for 
what it was at the time of its death, but for what it might 
have been, if it had been spared. We often find that the 
loss of an infant is lamented with a more violent and un 
appeasable grief than that of an adult ; and this is simply 
because, in the one case, the damage is ascertained, and 
forms but one distinct idea ; while in the other it is arbi 
trary, vast, beyond imagination. A child is, in one sense, 
a dangerous possession : it is apt to warp itself into the 
vitals of our very soul ; so that, when God rends it away, 
the whole mental fabric is shattered. It should always, 
then, be borne in mind, that life is the more uncertain the 
nearer its commencement, and that the beings we are dis 
posed to appreciate most are just those whom we are most 
apt to lose. 

The feelings of a parent, regarding a child in dangerous 
sickness, are beautifully expressed in the following poem, 
which will surprise many readers into tears : * 

" Send down thy winged angel, God ! 

Amidst this night so wild, 
And bid him come, where now we watch, 

And breathe upon our child. 
She lies upon her pillow, pale, 

And moans within her sleep, 
Or wakeneth with a patient smile, 

And striveth not to weep ! 
How gentle and how good a child 

She is, we know too well, 
And dearer to her parents' hearts 

Than our weak words can tell. 
We love we watch throughout the night, 

To aid, when need may be ; 
We hope and have despair'd at times, 

But now we turn to Thee [ 

* This exquisite little hymn is extracted from a volume of excellent, but, 
we fear, neglected poetry, published under the title of " English Songs, 
and other Small Poems, by Barry Cornwall." The real name of the author, 
we understand, is Proctor, and in him much of the old pure spirit of poetry 
has revived the poetry of nature and of the affections. 



CHILDREN. 245 

Send down thy sweet-soul'd angel, God ! 

Amidst the darkness wild, 
And bid him soothe our souls to-night, 

And heal our gentle child !" 

When a scene like this is closed by death, what an ex 
tinction of hopes ! No parent, it may be remarked, ever 
thinks he can spare a child. Whatever be the number of 
his family, he is almost sure to be afflicted to exactly a 
certain degree by the loss of any individual infant ; for 
simply this reason, that every one has established its own 
claim to his affections, by some peculiar trait of its appear 
ance or character. It is a lovely and admirable trait of 
human nature, that the parent is rather apt to appreciate 
the lost child above all the rest. The impossibility of a 
realization of his hopes regarding that infant, just makes 
all those hopes the brighter, so that the twilight of the 
child's dead existence is more splendid than the broad day 
of its living life. The surviving babes are all more or less 
connected with the common-place of this world the home 
liness of nature ; but that fair-haired innocent, which went 
to its place in the blush and dawn of its faculties, what 
might it not have been ? Then, the stirring grief of part 
ing with that face that was our own that more than 
friend, though but an infant to break off all the delightful 
ties of prattling tenderness, that had bound us, even in a 
few months, to that gentle form for ever ! A sorrow like 
this is long in being altogether quenched ; it comes in soft 
gushes into the heart for many future years, and subdues 
us in the midst of stronger and sterner feelings. The image 
lives always before us in unchanging infancy, and beauty, 
and innocence ; it ever seems to be walking in our eyes, 
as of yore, with its bright curling hair, and its lightsome 
carol ; and we long for heaven, that we may enjoy that no 
small portion of its pleasures a restoration to the com 
pany of that mortal angel which has been reft away. 



246 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



TEA-DRINKING. 

THERE is a certain class of people who take every oppor 
tunity of sneering at their neighbours for indulging in the 
"folly" of drinking tea, which they tell you is poisonous, 
and for the use of which the Chinese, as they say, make a 
point of laughing at us. I have generally remarked, that 
those who in this manner condemn the use of tea are 
themselves addicted to the drinking of intoxicating liquids 
of some kind or other, and that, in most instances, they 
are not a bit more healthful or more innocent than the un 
happy tea-drinkers whom they affect to pity. In the way 
that tea is usually made, with a large mixture of sugar and 
cream, both which ingredients are highly nutritious, it is 
fully more salutary, and a great deal more refreshing, than 
any other light liquid that could be poured into the stomach. 
With all due deference to Cobbett, milk, even entirely di 
vested of its creamy particles, is heavy ; and though it may 
be used with advantage as a meal, when work is done in 
the open air, it can never suit the appetites of the great 
mass of the people, who are confined by sedentary employ 
ments. Milk is the food of men in a rude state, or in 
childhood ; but tea or well-made coffee is their beverage 
in a state of civilisation. It would seem that the civilised 
human being must use a large quantity of liquid food. Per 
haps solid meat is more nutritious ; but there are cases in 
which a small degree of nutriment is quite sufficient. A 
lady or a gentleman of sedentary habits does not require to 
feed like a ploughman, or a fancy man training for a pe 
destrian excursion. They can subsist in a healthful state 
with a small quantity of solid food, but they do not do well 
unless with a large quantity of liquids, and these of a light 
quality. Good beer has been recommended as a substitute 
for tea ; but beer is at the best a cold ungenial drink, ex 
cept to robust people who have much exercise. Beer may 



TEA-DRINKING. 247 

certainly be made almost as light as water itself, but in that 
case it is filled with gaseous matter or confined air, and it 
cannot be drunk with comfort as a simple refreshment. 

It will always be remembered that there are different 
kinds of tea, and that some are more salutary than others. 
Green tea ought by all means to be avoided by persons of 
weak nerves. Black tea is the preferable for general use, 
and, if properly made, will prove anti-spasmodic, and re 
lieve pains or cramps in the bowels. In some instances 
tea does not suit the particular state of the stomach, and 
it should then be abandoned, the taste naturally pointing 
out when it should be taken. But no species of prepared 
fluid seems so suitable to the palates and the stomachs of 
the people of this country. No kind of drink is so re 
freshing after a journey or fatigue as tea. It restores the 
drooping spirits, and invigorates the frame for renewed 
exertion. No other kind of liquid with which we are 
acquainted has the same remarkable influence morally and 
physically. Fermented or distilled liquors, taken under 
the same circumstances, either induce intoxication or sleep. 
It is preposterous to say that tea is poisonous. As there 
is an astringency in its properties, I believe it would be 
most injurious were we to live upon nothing else, or drink 
it as a tincture. But who does either ? As it happens to 
be prepared and used, it answers merely as a refreshing 
and pleasing drink, either to the solid bread and butter 
taken along with it, or after a recent dinner of substantial 
viands. How idle it is to say that this harmless beverage 
is ruining the constitutions of the people of this country ! 
The very reverse can be demonstrated. The inhabitants 
of Britain use nearly twenty-seven millions of pounds 
weight of tea annually, which is about one pound nine 
ounces on an average for every individual. From thirty 
to forty years ago they used a great deal less than the half 
of this quantity, yet the average length of human life has 
been greatly extended since that period. The English 
and Scotch now use more tea than all the rest of Europe 



248 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

put together, and yet they are the healthiest nation on the 
face of the earth. The North Americans are also great 
tea-drinkers, and human life among them is of nearly an 
equal value. Who would for a moment compare the thin 
wretched wines of France and Germany, or the sour krout 
of Russia, to the " comfortable" tea of Great Britain, 
and who would lose time in calculating the different ef 
fects of these liquids on the constitution ? 

Tea has other excellent properties. At this present 
moment it is putting down the pernicious practice of dram- 
drinking, and evidently limiting the extent of after-dinner 
potations. It seems to be impossible that a regular drinker 
of tea can be a lover of ardent spirits ; and it is generally 
observed, that, as a man (or woman either) slides into the 
vice of tippling, he simultaneously withdraws from the tea- 
table ; so true it is that the brutalised feelings of the 
drunkard are incompatible with the refined sentiments 
produced by 

" The cup which cheers, but not inebriates." 

It is hence to be wished that tea, or some other equally 
simple prepared fluid, should be still more brought into 
use. Do not let it be urged as an objection, that tea is 
expensive ; for even under its excessive dearth, compared 
with its original cost, it is the cheapest beverage in use. 
With respect to price, it should not be placed against water 
or milk. It comes in place of some other indulgence in 
toxicating liquors for instance respecting the price of 
which we never heard any complaints from the lower 
walks of life. Tea is thus not entirely a superfluity. The 
clamours as to its fostering habits of evil and light speak 
ing, are so antiquated as hardly to deserve notice. For 
merly, when tea was exclusively a luxury among women, 
the tea-table was perhaps the scene where scandal was 
chiefly discussed. But while I suspect that the same 
amount of scandal would have been discussed if there had 
been no tea-tables whatever, I must observe, that tea is 
now partaken of under greatly different circumstances^ 



HUSBANDS AND WIVES. 249 

From being the favourite indulgence only of women, it is 
now an ordinary domestic meal, and there is no more dis 
position to draw forth the failings of our neighbours over 
tea than over roast beef or punch, at seven o'clock any 
more than at five. In the upper classes of society, what 
with late dinners, routs, and frivolities of every description, 
tea-drinking may be put aside as a vulgarism ; but as be 
ing, in point of fact, a powerful agent in humanising the 
harsh feelings of our nature, and cultivating the domestic 
affections, I trust it will long hold a place in the dietetics 
of the respectable middle and lower classes of Great Bri 
tain. 



HUSBANDS AND WIVES. 

WE meet with numerous rules for the conduct of young 
newly-married women of all ranks ; and if the world is 
not filled with good wives, it certainly is not because there 
is any want of matronly counsel for their guidance. But 
though the happiness of the conjugal state depends at 
least as much upon the behaviour of the husband as on 
that of the wife, there has not, as far as we are aware, 
been hitherto promulgated any code of instructions for the 
use of the former. Our literature abounds with narrations 
which exhibit the dutifulness and affection of women to 
husbands unworthy of them, who repaid tenderness with 
brutality, nor relented till those whose every amiable feel 
ing they ought to have cherished and rewarded with their 
love, either sank broken-hearted, or, grown desperate, be 
came even more abandoned and profligate than them 
selves. The man is to blame in nine cases out of ten 
where an alliance proves unhappy. In the lower ranks, 
especially, it is too often a want of prudence on his part 
that renders so many families wretched. Of the multitudes 



250 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

of those who have wasted character, health, and means, in in 
temperance, there is but a small proportion who might not 
have preserved respectability by listening to the admonitions 
of their wives. Yet, with these numerous and undeniable 
facts before the world, no writer thinks of preventing such 
evils by pointing out and enforcing the duties of the party 
from whose misconduct they chiefly spring. A small por 
tion of our columns, therefore, will not be unprofitably be 
stowed on a subject of so much importance. 

In order to secure the felicity of the married state, a 
husband must, in the first place, endeavour to secure the 
perfect confidence of his wife. He must banish every 
thing repulsive from his manner towards her, and live with 
her on such easy and friendly terms that she may never 
be discouraged from communicating with and consulting 
him on every affair, whether it be in the lesser or the greater 
concerns of life. If a wife do not find at home sympathy 
with her afflictions, cares, and anxieties, she- will seek it 
abroad she will detail her griefs to some acquaintance, to 
whom she will go for advice in matters of difficulty, and, 
perhaps, in matters of delicacy, which cannot properly be 
appreciated by a stranger, and therefore ought not to be 
entrusted to the ear of one. The happiness of the family 
will thus be made to depend in a great measure on a per 
son not a member of it, who, whatever be her prudence, is 
not intimately interested in the preservation of its peace, 
and who is more likely to take a side and encourage feel 
ings of animosity than to inculcate the duty of mutual for 
bearance. 

The husband's duty must therefore be to establish in 
the mind of his partner an entire reliance on his affection, 
and a thorough persuasion that he is disposed to the full 
amount of his power to promote her comfort. Let him 
not think it beneath him to take an interest in her domestic 
arrangements : by showing that he does so, he will make 
her sensible that her efforts to render home pleasing are 
not unappreciated; her labour for that end will be re- 



HUSBANDS AND WIVES. 251 

doubled, and yet prove more light to her. As he must 
be abroad the greater part of the day, let him not deprive 
her of his company in the hours of leisure that business 
leaves him. A man cannot altogether seclude himself from 
the world in the bosom of his family ; neither can he al 
ways carry his wife along with him : but he must not for 
a light reason allow himself to be detained from her society. 
A woman's hours are often lonely ; and after she has be 
stowed her whole cares for a day to set her house in order, 
and anxiously awaits her husband's return, in the hope of 
enjoying a few hours of mutually endearing converse by 
the cheerful hearth, if she have to watch every approach 
ing footstep in vain, it is a cruel disappointment. One of 
the greatest sins which the husband can commit, is that of 
making a practice of staying out late at night, which, though 
not reckoned among the usual catalogue of crimes against 
social life, is one of those most worthy of reprobation. 
The mental anguish endured by many excellent wives from 
this infamous practice, no one can picture unless he have 
witnessed it. There, by the lonely hearth the fire sunk 
to a cinder and a mass of ashes the candle verging to its 
close in the socket the dingy silent apartment strewed 
with the toys and furniture of the children, sent hours 
since to bed there, in the midst of this domestic wilder 
ness sits the drooping, desponding, almost broken-hearted 
wife, counting the hours, and conning over in her wearied 
mind the numbers of times she has been so deserted, and 
foreseeing the still greater misery which awaits her by such 
a course of profligacy in her husband. And for what, may 
we ask, has the master of the household thus deserted his 
home ? the company of hollow friends, idle acquaintances, 
perhaps drunkards or gamblers, whose witless jocularity 
forms the temptation to abandon a good name, fortune, 
worldly respectability, and self-esteem. None but the wife 
who has endured trials of this nature can properly under 
stand the horrors resulting from such a life of folly and 
dissipation. 



252 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Every reader must be delighted with the beautiful ex 
cuse, which, among others, Sir Thomas More makes why 
he did not publish his Utopia sooner. It shows us how 
important that great man considered an attentive perfor 
mance of the minor duties of life to be. " Seeing that 
almost the whole of the day is devoted to business abroad, 
and the remainder of my time to domestic duties, there is 
none left for myself that is, for my studies. For, on re 
turning home, I have to talk with my wife, prattle with 
my children, and converse with my servants : all which 
things I number among the duties of life ; since, if a man 
would not be a stranger in his own house, he must, by 
every means in his power, strive to render himself agree 
able to those companions of his life whom nature has pro 
vided, chance thrown in his way, or that he has himself 
chosen." 

The husband must not accustom himself to form reso 
lutions, and, without previously consulting his wife, make 
a sudden declaration of his purposes, in the same way as 
he would casually mention to a neighbour a plan, the exe 
cution of which he is just on the point of commencing. 
Even although such resolutions maybe come to in a spirit 
of wisdom, to determine upon any measure without her 
participation argues a want of confidence in her affection 
and judgment, and cannot fail greatly to distress and dis 
courage her. Granting that there are some matters of 
which the husband is the most competent judge, and that 
his wife cannot aid or improve his schemes, still she ought 
to be made acquainted with them, and the reasons for 
them, as far as possible ; for it is only proper that the wife 
should be admitted to the satisfaction of knowing what is 
expected to produce advantage to her husband. As to 
what some write, that women are not fit to be entrusted 
with great affairs, it may have been true in the cases which 
gave occasion to the remark, where the object involved a 
course of crooked policy, or where the ear to which the 
secret was committed was that of a female from whom fide- 



HUSBANDS AND WIVES. 253 

lity was scarcely in any case to be expected. If a man's 
designs be bad, the best way for success in them is to make 
the disclosure to nobody least of all to women ; to whom, 
if they be depraved, how can he trust ? and if they be not 
thoroughly hardened in wickedness, how much less can 
he trust to them, seeing that, being of much tenderer con 
sciences than men, they are always more ready to relent ! 
But if he would make his way in the world by fair and ho 
nest practices, a husband can have no better counsellor 
than his wife : her stretch of understanding may not be so 
masculine as to embrace the subject in all its more impor 
tant bearings, but, in the lesser details of management, her 
advice may prove invaluable. 

Without a constant and unreserved interchange of sen 
timents, a constant and perfect cordiality cannot be main 
tained ; and then, indeed, when things are communicated 
only by fits and starts, and perhaps never more than half 
explained, leaving an impression that her discretion is dis 
trusted, the wife will be more apt to carry them abroad, 
to endeavour, by the help of other wits than her own, to 
penetrate what is concealed, and in the hope of finding, in 
the sympathy of others, consolation for the want of con 
fidence with which she is treated at home. It is thus that 
a man becomes by degrees " a stranger in his own house." 
His domestic behaviour is observed with the same distant 
caution with which his conduct in public is scrutinised ; 
and as in all likelihood he does not take the same pains 
to produce a favourable impression, and is not equally on 
his guard to obviate misinterpretations of what he says and 
does, he must appear proportionably less amiable ; and as 
the endearments of domestic life are in consequence with 
drawn, the bad effects of his unsocial humour are at last 
felt in his own discomfort. 

" Those that are curious observers of mankind," says a 
Christian philosopher, who is not so generally known as 
might be expected from the excellence of his writings, ' love 
to consider them in the most familiar lights. When men 



254 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

are abroad, they choose to appear (whatever they really 
are) to the best advantage ; but at home, their minds, as 
well as their persons, are in a perfect undress and disha 
bille. The world is the great theatre on which they act 
a part ; but, behind the scenes, they may be seen in their 
proper persons, without any studied appearances. Our 
domestic behaviour is, therefore, the main test of our 
virtue and good nature. In public, we may carry a fair 
outside ; our love may be not without dissimulation nor our 
hatred without disguise ; but at home, Nature, left to 
itself, shows its true and genuine face, with an unre 
served openness, and all the soul stands forth to view, 
without any veil thrown over it. There we see men 
in all the little and minute circumstances of life, which, 
however they may be overlooked by common observers, 
yet give a man of discernment a truer opening into a man's 
real character, than the more glaring and important trans 
actions of it, because, as to these, they are more upon 
their guard they act with more of caution and of art than 
of plain simple nature. In short, our good or ill breeding 
is chiefly seen abroad, our good or ill nature at home. It 
were to be wished that we had more family pieces pre 
served and transmitted down to us. The good public 
magistrate is of use to few only ; but the prudent and af 
fectionate father of a family is of a more general and ex 
tensive influence. For my part, I more admire Cornelius, 
the centurion, for that short sketch of his character, viz. 
that he was a devout man, and one that feared God, with 
all his house, than if he had been represented as the most 
victorious general that had enlarged the bounds of the 
Roman empire ; for we learn from it this useful lesson 
that the influence of a pious example, like the precious 
ointment from Aaron's beard, descends downwards from 
the head of the family, diffuses itself over the main body, 
till it reaches the very skirts the lowest members of it." 



THEY. 255 



THEY. 

BEFORE saying a word upon the subject, I must make an 
apology similar to that presented by honest Andro Sym- 
son, episcopal minister of a Galloway parish before the 
Revolution, when, in singing the praises of Sir David 
Dunbar of Baldoon, he says, his muse 

. 'gainst Priscian avers, i 

He, HE ALONE, were my parishioners. 

As good Andro's congregation of one required to be spo 
ken of in the plural, so do my friends THEY need to be 
mentioned in the singular number. The truth is, THEY is 
a collective ideality, a most potent plural unit, who does 
a great many remarkable things in the world, without ever 
being called to account for them, and without any body 
knowing very distinctly who or what he is. I venture to 
say, that hardly a subject of his Majesty does not, day by 
day, refer events and deeds to the agency of THEY, and 
yet never has presumed, to this blessed hour, to con 
sider who this mysterious personage this great unknown 
this finer spirit than Ariel can be. In very truth, he 
is a most impalpable being, and susceptible of a wonderful 
variety of shapes. There is no height of greatness, and 
no depth of degradation, which he may not arrive at. 
Sometimes one would suppose that he is the government 
itself sometimes, only a town council. One of THEY'S 
employments is the disposal of criminals. " Are THEY 
going to hang this fellow?" one man will ask another. 
" Perhaps THEY will only banish him," is the probable 
answer. If the culprit be not decently and humanely 
hanged, the people get dreadfully enraged at THEY, and 
look as if they would almost tear his eyes out. THEY also 
has a great deal to do in public works. " Why did THEY 
make the road so crooked ?" " THEY have put up a very 
absurd set of street lamps, I see." " What, in wonder's 



256 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

name, do THEY mean by building a temple up there, like a 
boy's peerie, or an hour-glass ?" Then THEY is the author 
of all kinds of rumours and surmises. " They say what 
say they let them say !" is an inscription on a wall within 
Aberdeen Cathedral four hundred years old ; and I do not 
doubt that THEY would have given currency to scandals 
regarding the mother of mankind herself, in Paradise, if 
there had been any other lady to tell them to or if 
THEY had then existed. Old newspapers say, " THEY 
write from St Petersburg that the Empress Catharine is 
about to fit out an armament for the Caspian." " THEY 
talk at Rome of a change of councils in the Vatican." 
Modern quidnuncs are also filled to the brim with things 
which THEY has been circulating. " THEY are now making 

out Lord to be non compos." " THEY will have a 

marriage to be on the tapis between So-AND-So and So- 
AND-So ;" personages, by the way, who claim a sort of 
kindred with THEY, and certainly are of imagination all 
compact. THEY is sometimes admired for his power, 
sometimes blamed for his stinginess. " THEY used to write 
capital solid books long ago." " THEY used Burns very 
ill when he was alive." It certainly was bad of THEY to 
treat Burns so scurvily ; but unfortunately the fellow is so 
utterly impersonal, that we blame without knowing what 
we are doing. 

THEY has a great deal to do with the naming of things. 
He may be called, in arithmetical language, the Grand 
Denominator. Indeed, I do not believe that Adam him 
self named more things than THEY. " What do THEY 
call this place?" one will ask a coachman, on nearing a 
town, village, or gentleman's seat. " THEY call it Ash- 
bourne," or whatever else, is the reply. " What do THEY 
call ye ?" is the ordinary question of a rustic boy to his 
unknown companion, and so forth. THEY is also the 
grand censor of all things which happen in the world. 
" I will not do this, for what would THEY say of me?" is 
a common expression, when a man hesitates upon some 



THEY. 257 

equivocal step. He may be convinced, from irrefragable 
data, of the propriety of what he contemplates : but then 
he could not convince THEY of it, and, of course, in these 
circumstances, he must let the scheme drop. THEY thus 
prevents many things that would be bad, many things that 
would be only strange, and many things that would cer 
tainly be good, if he could be convinced of it. A most 
uncompromising fellow is this THEY ! He knows very 
well that he cannot enter into another man's bosom, to see 
all the various reasons and tendencies which lead him to 
wards the thing he aims at ; but, nevertheless, presuming 
that he is quite omniscient, or at least fully as well acquaint 
ed with every other particular man's business as his own, 
he never hesitates to give a decided contradiction to any 
proposal he is not, at first sight, pleased with. Many are 
the good original schemes which THEY has spoilt, from a 
hasty conclusion without premises. 

THEY, also, amidst all his multitudinous and most Pro 
tean varieties of character, is a general scapegoat for all 
the mischief that is done in a household. " I see THEY 
have cracked that decanter. " ' ' THEY have at last made an 
end of the globe in the lobby." Or, as I once heard said 
by the lady of a house afflicted with a breaking woman - 
servant, " I declare THEY have broken the very kitchen 
poker!" a compound fracture, too, it was. Such are a 
few of the doings of THEY in his household capacity ; and 
it must be owned that in this light he is very great, and 
often comes above-board. The grandest aspect, however, 
in which THEY ever appears, is when he stands up as a 
representative of the government of the country. " THEY 
are going, I see, to bring us into a war with France. " 
" THEY intend, it seems, to resume cash payments at the 
Bank." No matter whether the affair refers to privilege 
or prerogative ; no matter for the claims of the particular 
officer under whose hands it ought to fall ; King, Lords, 
Commons, Treasury, Admiralty, and Horse Guards all 
melt, like mixed colours, into the single white light of 
T 



258 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

THEY ! Things may be different under the Reform Bill ; 
but, heretofore, there has hardly been any precise govern 
ment but THEY. THEY crowns the king signs the orders 
of council passes all bills through the legislature that 
will go through fits out armies, and rigs fleets makes 
war, and concludes peace is church and state Swing and 
the Press. THEY is a being of past history, and of pre 
sent existence a tyrant, or the people. THEY is the great 
despot pronoun of the world ! 



RELATIONS. 

OWING to the different merits of the different members of 
a family, and in some measure, also, to the various chances 
which are vouchsafed to them of bettering their circum 
stances, we generally see that, though they all begin alike, 
some go up and some go down in life, so that in the long- 
run the family, or at least its second generation, is scat 
tered over nearly the whole surface of society, from its top 
to its bottom. The case may seem startling ; but it is our 
belief that there is hardly any person, be his own situation 
ever so exalted, who has not relations, and near relations 
too, in the very lowest walks of life not only in the con 
dition of servants, perhaps, for that is decent, and, in its 
way, respectable, but in the most degraded state to which 
human nature can well be reduced. 

In the same way, almost all of us have kinsfolk a little 
higher in the scale than ourselves, or whom we think so 
it is all one. Now, it is quite amazing how accurate our 
genealogical knowledge becomes respecting one of these 
individuals, compared with its equally surprising ignorance 
regarding those who have not been so fortunate. When 
a cousin or half grand-uncle rises above our level, he rises 



RELATIONS. 259 

into a blaze of light, which enables us to trace our connec 
tion with him as plainly as we run our eye along the string 
of a boy's kite. But when a poor nephew or grand- 
nephew descends into poverty and contempt, he seems 
like a plummet submersed in the ocean, where, though we 
may occasionally feel him tugging at the bottom of the line, 
we are totally unable to trace the line itself. We are al 
ways most laudably ready to exchange the civilities of life 
and the affections of kindred with the cousin who has, in 
the first place, convinced us of his merit by thatching him 
self well over with bank-notes. It is pleasant to go and 
dine at a kinsman's house, where we know that our enter 
tainment can be furnished without any distress to our 
worthy host. But really it is a totally different case to in 
trude upon a scene where our poor friend is doing his best, 
with the tears in his eyes, to satisfy the cravings of his 
family with, perhaps, a very homely meal. Humanity in 
that case demands that we should rather stay away, for we 
know he does not like to be seen in his poor state. And 
then, too, how easily we can put up with the eccentricities 
of a wealthy relation, even though they may sometimes gall 
our pride a little : how strangely liable, on the other hand, 
are we to fall out with the poor unfortunates below us ! 
On the day after having been regaled to the uttermost ex 
cess by our wealthy friend, we will quarrel with the poor 
one for having drunk a single glass of some plebeian fluid. 
With the former, nothing with the latter, every thing, is 
a fault. The imperfections of the poor are yawning and 
palpable as their own rags : those of the rich are as smooth 
as broad-cloth can make them. The truth is, our senses 
can tolerate almost any odious or improper thing that is 
found in a scene above our usual grade in the world. We 
never know enough of it to be able to measure its real 
odiousness, or it is disguised by the cordial appliances 
which we always have ready for the sores of the great. 
But the vices, nay, the smallest foibles of the lowly, come 
before our senses so bare, so beggarly, so unanealed, and, 



260 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

moreover, they are so immediately followed by that addi 
tional wretchedness which wealthy error escapes, that we 
have no excuse for them. Hence we generally find, that 
we have shaken off the most of our poor relations on ac 
count of some trivial cause of offence, which we find it 
necessary, however, to be always nursing in our minds, in 
order to sustain us in the conviction that the breach of 
treaty the casus fcederis was sufficient. 

There is one very obvious mark of the individual who 
despises poor relations a perpetual reference to rich ones. 
Some people are constantly bringing in allusions to "my 
cousin Mr This," and "my uncle Mr That," and even to 
more remote relations, such as " my great-grandmother 
the Countess of Somewhere." A few are so very silly as to 
tell, in the newspaper announcement of their marriage, that 
their bride, besides being daughter to this or that plain 
esquire, is "grand-niece to General So-and-So," or " cou 
sin to Mr Such-a-Thing, secretary of state." These an 
nouncements are an impertinence fit for the interference of 
the legislature or the police. If people have exalted 
relations, let them enjoy them as much as they can within 
themselves, but do not let them be perpetually presenting 
this odious little piece of vanity before others, who not 
only are not interested in it, but are perhaps reminded by 
it that they have no fine relations themselves. To be al 
ways thus singling out a relation from all the rest, and 
holding him up in connection with ourselves, is a direct 
injury to him, in so far as we are thus trying to exalt our 
selves at his expense an indirect insult to our kindred in 
general, whom we leave out of view, and a nuisance to all 
before whom we thus exhibit our own poverty of soul. It 
is a cultivation of the most odious character, and necessarily 
suggests to every thinking person, that in exact proportion 
to our homage to the great persons of our family must be 
our haughtiness and severity to the humble. The people 
addicted to this vice of conversation are evidently satisfied 
in their own minds that they are talking very fine, and ex- 



THE STRANGERS' NOOK. 261 

citing no feeling in their hearers but admiration and respect ; 
but in reality they are always scouted and ridiculed, even 
to the degree of being honoured with a nickname, carved, 
perhaps, out of the favourite phrase. 

A really good and philosophical spirit will neither plume 
himself upon his more fortunate, nor despise his less fortu 
nate, relations. He will modestly rejoice in the success 
of the former, and take care, by avoiding the appearance 
of intrusiveness on the one hand, and splenetic and 
pettish jealousy on the other, to afford no reason for 
the fortunate individual to feel incommoded by the con 
nection, and, consequently, to endeavour to shake it off. 
To those who are less fortunate than himself, he will be 
as encouraging and kind as his circumstances render pru 
dent or decent, neither manifesting that vulgar pride which 
tries needlessly to make a kind of virtue out of a low origin, 
nor that still more pitiable vanity which denies all inferior 
kindred, and seeks, at the expense of real dignity, the eclat 
of a few "great friends." We allow there is a general 
difficulty in the case. Friends in different worldly circum 
stances are like positive and negative clouds in electricity : 
there is a constant tendency in the poor to an equalization, 
which is not relished by the parties whose pockets are 
charged positively. But human nature should be always 
contending with its weaknesses, and, though full confiding 
friendship is not perhaps to be expected, there may still 
be a sufficient interchange of kindness to lighten, in no small 
degree, the general burden of life. 



THE STRANGERS' NOOK. 

IN country churchyards in Scotland, and perhaps in other 
countries also, there is always a corner near the gateway, 
which is devoted to the reception of strangers, and is dis- 



262 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

tinguished from the rest of the area by its total want of 
monuments. When you inquire of the passing peasant 
respecting this part of the burial-ground, he tells you that 
it is the corner for strangers, but never, of course, thinks 
that there is or can be any sentiment in the matter. To 
me, I must confess, this spot is always more interesting 
than any other, on account of the more extended scope 
which it gives to those feelings with which one surveys a 
churchyard. As you wander over the rest of the ground, 
you see humble memorials of humbler worth, mixed per 
haps with the monuments of rank and wealth. But these 
tell always a definite tale. It is either the lord or the 
tenant of some of the neighbouring fields, or a trading 
burgher, or perhaps a clergyman ; and there is an end of 
it. These men performed their parts on earth, like the 
generality of their fellows, and, after figuring for a space on 
the limited arena of the parish or the district, were here 
gathered to their fathers. But the graves of the strangers ! 
what tales are told by every undistinguished heap what 
eloquence in this utter absence of epitaphs ! 

There can be no doubt that the individuals who rest in 
this nook belonged, with hardly the possibility of an ex 
ception, to the humbler orders of the community. But who 
will say that the final sufferings and death of any individual 
whatsoever are without their pathos ? To me, who have 
never been able to despise any fellow-creature upon ge 
neral considerations, the silent expressive stories related 
by these little heaps, possess an interest above all real elo 
quence. Here, we may suppose, rests the weary old man, 
to whom, after many bitter shifts, all bitterly disappointed, 
wandering and mendicancy had become a last trade. His 
snow-white head, which had suffered the inclemency of 
many winters, was here at last laid low for ever. Here 
also the homeless youth, who had trusted himself to the 
wide world in search of fortune, was arrested in his wan 
derings ; and, whether his heart was as light and buoyant 
as his purse, or weighed down with many privations and 



THE STRANGERS' NOOK. 263 

disappointments, the end was the same only in the one 
case a blight, in the other a bliss. The prodigal, who 
had wandered far, and fared still worse and worse, at 
length returning, was here cut short in his better purpose, 
far from those friends to whom he looked forward as a 
consolation for all his wretchedness. Perhaps, when 
stretched in mortal sickness in a homely lodging in the 
neighbouring village, where, though kindness was render 
ed, it was still the kindness of strangers, his mind wan 
dered in repentant fondness to that mother whom he 
had parted with in scorn, but for whose hand to present 
his cup, and whose eye to melt him with its tenderness, 
he would now gladly give the miserable remains of his 
life. Perhaps he thought of a brother, also parted with 
in rage and distrust, but who, in their early years, had 
played with him, a fond and innocent child, over the sum 
mer leas, and to whom that recollection forgave every 
thing. No one of these friends to soothe the last mo 
ments of his wayward and unhappy life scarcely even to 
hear of his death when it had taken place. Far frpm 
every remembered scene, every remembered face, he was 
doomed here to take his place amidst the noteless dead, 
and be as if he had never been. Perhaps one of these 
graves contains the shipwrecked mariner, hither transfer 
red from the neighbouring beach. A cry was heard by night 
through the storm which dashed the waves upon the rocky 
coast ; deliverance was impossible ; and next morning, the 
only memorial of what had taken place was the lifeless 
body of a sailor stretched on the sand. No trace of name 
or kin, not even the name of the vessel, was learned ; but, 
no doubt, as the villagers would remark in conveying him 
to the Strangers' Nook, he left some heart to pine for his 
absence, some eyes to mourn for him, if his loss should 
ever be ascertained. There are few so desolate on earth 
as not to have one friend or associate. There must either 
be a wife to be widowed, or a child to be made an orphan, 
or a mother to suffer her own not less grievous bereave- 



264 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ment. Perhaps the sole beloved object of some humble 
domestic circle, whose incomings and outgoings were ever 
pleasant, is here laid low, while neither can the bereaved 
learn aught of the fate and final resting-place of their fa 
vourite, nor can those who kindly, but without mourning, 
performed his last offices, reach their ears with the intelli 
gence, grateful even in its pain, of what had been done to 
his remains ; here the energies which had battled with the 
waves in their hour of night, and the despair whose expres 
sion had been wasted upon the black tempest, are all stilled 
into rest, and forgotten. The storm is done ; its work 
has been accomplished ; and here lies the strange mariner, 
where no storms shall ever again trouble him. 

Such are the imaginings which may arise in contemplat 
ing that neglected nook in our churchyards which is devoted 
to the reception of strangers. The other dead have all 
been laid down in their final beds by long trains of sorrow 
ing friends. They rest in death in the midst of those be 
loved scenes which their infancy knew, and which were 
associated with every happiness, every triumph, every sor 
row, which befel them. The burns in which they had 
" paidlet" when they were children, run still in their shin 
ing beauty all around and about their last resting-place ; 
the braes over which they wandered hand in hand, "to 
pu' the go wans fine," still look down in all their summer 
pride upon the fold into which they have at last been ga 
thered for eternity. But the homeless strangers ! they 
died far from every endeared scene. The rills were not 
here like those which they had known ; the hills were dif 
ferent too. Instead of the circle of friends, whose anticipa 
ted grief tends so much to smooth the last bed of suffering 
man, the pillow of the homeless was arranged by strangers : 
they were carried to the burial-ground, not by a train of 
real mourners, anxious to express their respect and affec 
tion for the departed, but by a few individuals, who, in so 
doing, complimented human nature in general, but not the 
individual. To the other graves there was also some one 



NOBODY TO BE DESPISED. 265 

to resort afterwards, to lament the departure of those who 
lay below. The spot was always cherished and marked 
by at least one generation of kind ones ; and, whether dis 
tinguished by a monument or not, it was always a greater 
or less space of time before the memory of the deceased 
entirely perished from its place. Still, as each holy day 
came round, and the living flocked to the house of prayer, 
there was always some one to send a kind eye aside to 
wards that little mound, and be for a moment moved with 
a pensive feeling, as the heart recalled a departed parent, 
or child, or friend. But the graves of the strangers ! all 
regard was shut out from them as soon as they were closed. 
The decent few who had affected mourning over them had 
no sooner turned away than they were at once forgotten. 
That ceremony over, their kind had done with them for 
ever. And so, there they lie, distinguished from the rest 
only by the melancholy mark that they are themselves un* 
distinguished from each other ; no eye to weep over them 
now or hereafter, and no regard whatsoever to be paid to 
them till they stand forth, with their fellow-men, at the 
Great and Final Day. 



NOBODY TO BE DESPISED 

EXCEPT on particular grounds of demerit. This is a 
maxim which it would be well if the world would pay more 
attention to. 

There are many people very good people, too who 
have a habit of speaking contemptuously or lightly of al 
most every body but themselves. There are still more 
who do not seem to consider it necessary to treat the ab 
sent with the least respect, but, to use the words of a 
modern writer, are remarkably candid in owning and show 
ing up the faults of their neighbours. 



266 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

These, I think, are detestable practices of human na 
ture the issue of its weakness rather than its strength. 

When I think of a great and good character, I cannot 
conceive that he has a habit of depreciating the respect 
due to his absent friends, or of treating any of his fellow- 
creatures with scorn, unless for some specific delinquency. 
Such a person will be already too secure of his own re 
putation to seek to raise it at the expense of others. He 
will be able to take an enlarged view of human society, 
and, seeing that the condition of all men is in a great 
measure accidental, or at least moulded greatly by cir 
cumstances, will not despise any man on account of his 
mere place in the general system, but, on the contrary, 
give him respect in proportion to his good conduct in that 
place, whatever it may be. Such a man, also, will have 
too much respect for himself, to use language at any time 
which he would be ashamed to own at another time. He 
would not indulge in a tone of levity or rancour respecting 
any man, on whose entrance accidentally into the room 
he would have to alter his style, and hypocritically offer 
him the usual courtesies of society. 

It happens, however, that all men are more or less re 
mote from the greatness and goodness of this ideal cha 
racter. We are, as yet, only in a state of comparative 
approximation to those qualities ; hence we find that nearly 
all are alike given to speak slightingly of each other. There 
are two grand causes at the bottom of this Selfishness 
and Thoughtlessness. The former gives us such an intense 
appreciation of ourselves, and of the rank we hold in 
society, that we speak and think as if every man and every 
class beneath us were too mean to be entitled to the least 
respect ; we look upon the whole as a degraded caste, 
whose very existence must only be acknowledged indirectly, 
as a thing we have become acquainted with by seeing it at 
a distance, not by having ever come in contact with it. In 
this view of society our ordinary literature is very apt to 
confirm us. The key-note is there struck always in alt. 



NOBODY TO BE DESPISED. 267 

The whole strain of the work, its characters, its philo 
sophy, its manners, are presumed to be something above 
the common level ; for literary men are still, after all, very 
much the slaves of the great which they used to be. If 
the writer describes humble life at all, he describes it as 
seen by a bird's-eye view from some lofty station not as 
seen by a person who mingles in it, and partakes of its 
sympathies. Even the middle ranks of the community, 
who in this country form the great mass of readers, and 
from which, moreover, almost all literary men arise, have 
no literature of their own : they have to read a literature 
which has been calculated for the sphere above them, and 
in which, of course, their sympathies must be of an im 
perfect character. And thus, after all that has been done, 
it still appears a desideratum that there should be both a 
literature and a philosophy for the human race. 

Then, as to thoughtlessness, as a cause for this univer 
sally mutual contempt. It must be admitted, I should 
think, that if we only took a proper consideration of the 
noble destiny which all partake in common with ourselves, 
both in respect to the grand moral ends of this life, and 
the more sublime prospects for the future, we would hardly 
think meanly of any one, except, as before mentioned, on 
account of some specific worthlessness. For my part, I 
wonder how any man can dare to despise a fellow -creature 
upon other grounds. Is it difference of tongue, of rank, 
of personal character, of external manners, that makes you 
despise any one ? What, I would ask, are all these dis 
tinctions to the great fellowship of our common humanity 
the social end which we are working to as parts of a 
great community as parts of a glorious world, or the ge 
neral destiny which awaits us at the close of this brief 
life ? Reflect upon these things before you permit yourself 
to think lightly of a fellow-creature ; or, if these things are 
of no avail with you, consider what you are yourself, that you 
thus scorn another. I must say that I have often observed 
the most contemptible man to be the most contemptuous. 



268 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

There are some men who hardly make any other preten 
sion to the respect of the world, than in so far as they 
profess to treat every thing cavalierly. But as he who 
sheds blood must submit to have his blood shed by others, 
so are these men at length detected, and tossed, as they 
deserve, in a blanket of their own weaving. Individuals 
may be assured that it is not by proclaiming a war of con 
tempt against the world, or any large number of its mem 
bers, that a comfortable situation is to be gained for 
themselves. 

There is a good old national proverb, which tells us that 
the king's errand may come in the pedlar's road that is 
to say, a very lofty man may occasionally have to take a 
favour from one in humble life. This is no mere flatter 
ing unction applied by the common people to themselves. 
It breathes the very spirit of an enlarged and humane 
philosophy. It tells us that all ranks of men are in reality 
dependent upon each other, and that every one, filling its 
proper place, is entitled to its proportion of regard from the 
rest. Treating the expression in its more limited sense, 
it instructs us that, in the prospect of our being occasion 
ally obliged to accept of favours from very mean hands, we 
should never treat any person beneath us with disrespect 
as, otherwise, with what grace can we accept of such a 
favour ? On this point I take the liberty to relate a simple 
anecdote, as told to me some years ago, in illustration of 
the subject of this essay, by the individual chiefly con 
cerned the wife of a shopkeeper in a country town in the 
north of Scotland. 

" In there lived a poor woman, named Peggy 

Williamson, a kind of washerwoman, whom every body 
looked upon as a wretched creature. This despised and 
not very reputable person had a son, who on one occasion 
was taken up by the town-officers for some trifling offence, 
and would have been thrown into prison, if I had not 
thought the case rather a hard one, and interceded with 
the magistrate in his behalf. Peggy, with all her faults, 



NOBODY TO BE DESPISED. 269 

was not ungrateful ; she came to me, and said she never 
would forget my kindness. 

" A long time after this, in consequence of a particular 
calamity, my husband's affairs got into a very hopeless 
state. I was attending the shop one bleak November day. 
Few customers were coming in, or likely to come in, and 
our prospects were gloomy and dull as the atmosphere it 
self. I never, indeed, since we began business, saw a day 
when things seemed less promising. The whole street 
the whole town appeared deserted. All was desolate, 
cold, and wintry ; and with the dread of utter ruin im 
pending over us, you may suppose that our spirits were 
not very good. Well, just while we were In this dolorous 
state, in came my old friend Peggy Williamson, accom 
panied by a country girl, who, she said, wanted to pro 
vide herself with a number of our wares, being about to 
be married. This person expended six or eight pounds 
with us, and we could not help feeling it as a kind of god 
send. It was, however, the result of my having at one 
time done a just, for I can hardly call it a kind, action, to a 
person whom the most of people despised. Peggy, who was 
not perhaps aware of the full extent to which we appre 
ciated her good offices, told me very modestly, as she left 
the shop with her friend, that she was glad to have had it in 
her power to recommend any body to us for goods, * as 
she never could forget my kindness to Tarn.' I thus satis 
fied myself, not only that an act of ordinary benevolence 
is likely to produce its reward where it is least expected, 
but that some good feeling may exist even in those cha 
racters, whom on ordinary principles we may be most in 
clined to despise." 

Let us judge, then, or at least let us always be inclined 
to judge, with tenderness, both of persons and of things. 
Let us not take our impressions of the characters of our 
fellow-creatures from the little obvious fault or foible which 
lies upon the surface, and affords, of course, the subject 
of largest discourse to the superficial ; but, dashing aside 



270 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the weeds which mantle the surface of the character, as 
certain the extent and sweetness of the clear water beneath. 
It is of great importance to men, but especially to young 
men, to acquire a power of judging correctly and definitely 
of every thing. They must learn to estimate every thing 
relatively, and not be prevented from allowing merit, even 
where it exists in the smallest quantities, by its being min 
gled with a larger proportion of less worthy qualities. We 
often find one kind of merit denied, because it is not an 
other. A man of untutored genius is sneered at because 
he wants learning. A learned man is termed a stupid 
dunce or a pedant, because he wants genius. The writer 
of an unpretending narrative is described by some of his 
invidious fellows as no Hume, or Gibbon, or Robertson. An 
industrious tradesman is ridiculed as a mere plodder ; a far 
mer is laughed at because he is only acquainted with coun 
try affairs. Glasgow is condemned as deficient in the 
refined professional and literary classes of inhabitants, who 
reside in Edinburgh ; and Edinburgh is scouted for its be 
ing " not at all a place of business." These are vicious 
habits of thought and speech if thought there can be in 
what argues a total absence of every thing like reason. 



TRUST TO YOURSELF. 

THIS is a glorious principle for the industrious and trading 
classes of the community, and yet the philosophy of it is 
not perhaps understood so well as it ought to be. 

There is hardly any thing more common in the country 
than to hear men spoken of who originally, or at some 
period of their lives, were rich, but were ruined by " secu 
rity" that is, by becoming bound to too great an extent 
for the engagements of their neighbours. This must arise 



TRUST TO YOURSELF. 271 

in a great measure from an imperfect understanding of the 
question ; and it therefore seems necessary that something 
should be said in explanation of it. 

I would be far from desiring to see men shut up their 
hearts against each other, and each stand, in the panoply 
of his own resolutions, determined against every friendly 
appeal whatsoever. It is possible, however, to be not 
altogether a churl, and yet to take care lest we be tempted 
into an exertion of benevolence, dangerous to ourselves, 
while it is of little advantage to our friends. 

Notwithstanding the many ties which connect a man 
with society, he nevertheless bears largely imprinted on 
his forehead the original doom, that he must chiefly b 
dependent on his own labour for subsistence. It is found 
by all men of experience, that, in so far as one trusts to 
his own exertions solely, he will be apt to flourish ; and, 
in so far as he leans and depends upon others, he will be 
the reverse. Nothing can give so good a general assur 
ance of well-doing as the personal activity of the indivi 
dual, day by day exerted for his own interest. If a man, 
on the contrary, suddenly finds, in the midst of such a 
career, a prospect of some patronage which seems likely 
to enrich him at once, or if he falls into the heritage of 
some antiquated claims to property or title, which he 
thinks it necessary to prosecute, it is ten to one that he 
declines from that moment, and is finally ruined. The 
only true way to make a happy progress through this 
world, is to go on in a dogged, persevering pursuit of one 
good object, neither turning to the right nor to the left, 
making our business as much as possible our pleasure, 
and not permitting ourselves to awake from our dream of 
activity not permitting ourselves to think that we have 
been active till we suddenly find ourselves at the goal of 
our wishes, with fortune almost unconsciously within our 
grasp. 

Now, it is a most violent and unhappy disturbance of 
this system, to be always poking about after large favours 



272 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

from friends, whether for the purpose of adding fuel to what 
we think a good fire, or preserving a bad one from extinc 
tion. All that is obtained in this way is obtained against 
the very spirit of correct business, and is likely to be only 
mischievous to both parties. In the first place, it is pro 
bable that we shall not make such a good use of money got 
thus in a slump, without being painsfully and gradually 
won, as of that which is the acquisition of our own daily 
industry. Then, it is always a presumption against a man 
that he should require such subsidies ; and, accordingly, 
his commercial reputation is apt to suffer from every request 
he makes. Next, to consider the case in reference to the 
friend from whom the demand is made, it is obviously a 
most unfair thing, that, when men find it so necessary to 
be cautious in adventuring money on unusual risks, even 
for their own interest, and are, in such circumstances, so 
strongly called upon to make themselves acquainted with 
every circumstance of the case before venturing when, 
moreover, they only do so in the prospect of an unusual 
profit I say it is unfair, that, when they only adventure 
money on their own account under these circumstances, 
they should be called upon occasionally to adventure 
it for the profit of a friend, without knowing any thing of 
the likelihood of its turning out well, without being able to 
take any of those expedients which they would use in their 
own case for insuring its eventual re-appearance, without 
the least chance of profit to compensate the risk trusting 
the whole, in fact, to the uncertain and hidden sea of an 
other man's mind, when perhaps they would not trust it 
upon their own, with a full knowledge of soundings, tide, 
wind, and pilotage. Men may grant such favours, from 
their dislike to express such a want of confidence in a friend 
as a refusal is supposed to intimate. But this proceeds 
upon the erroneous principle that the refusal indicates want 
of confidence. In reality, it ought only to be held as in 
dicating a want of confidence in the particular line of use 
upon which it is to be adventured. When the man now 



TRUST TO YOURSELF. 273 

wanting the loan of money expresses himself as certain to 
reproduce it at the proper time, he pledges too much of 
his honour ; for there cannot be a stronger proof of the un 
likelihood of his having money then than his wanting it now, 
so that" the uncertainty of the reproduction of the sum 
could never be greater. The person from whom it is de 
manded is entitled, therefore, to take care that the peti 
tioner is not deceiving both himself and the individual 
whom he wishes to supply his necessities. 

Humanity kindred friendship have many claims ; 
and these will always be considered and answered by a man 
of good feelings. All that is here contended for, is the in 
consistency of a system of large accommodations with just 
business, as well as with the real interests of either of the 
two parties concerned. Upon the whole, a man will not 
only be obliging himself in the best manner, but he will 
also be obliging society in a higher degree than he other 
wise could do, if he simply looks well after himself, so that 
he never requires a favour. Let no man be unduly alarmed 
at the outcry of '* selfishness ;" it is the only principle which 
can ever become nearly general, and therefore the only one 
which can be equal or impartial in its action. When this 
cry is raised, let the petitioned party always take pains to 
consider whether he in reality is the selfish person whe 
ther the odium of that bad feeling does not indeed rather 
lie with the petitioner, who is content, for the purpose of 
saving himself some present inconvenience, or otherwise 
advantaging himself, to bring a portion of his friend's sub 
stance into hazard for hazard, of course, there always is, 
whenever money leaves the possession of its owner, and in 
hardly any kind of adventure is it ever in greater peril than 
when lent, or engaged for, in this manner, without the pro 
spect of a profit. It is, in a great measure, a mere error 
arising from want of reflection, to suppose that there can 
only be inhumanity on the part of the individual who re 
fuses to lend or become bound. Inhumanity, of course, 
there may often be in such refusals ; but is there to be no 
u 



274 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

sympathy, on the other hand, for the friend betrayed? 
Are we only to have pity for the man who wants money 
no matter through what causes he wants it in March, 
and none for him who is called upon to undertake the risk 
of having to pay it in June, to his grievous inconvenience? 
Does pity only acknowledge the present tense, and not the 
future ? Is it so silly a passion that it only feels for the 
present wants of an individual who goes a-borrowing, and 
has no regard to the contingent sorrows of him who, with 
out fault of his own, but with every merit to the contrary, 
is beguiled into a ruin he did not purchase, in the ineffec 
tual attempt, perhaps, to save one who, supposing him to 
be personally as worthy, was at least the only person with 
whom blame, if blame there be, can in such a case be said 
to rest? 

SUMMARY Fortune is most easily and most certainly 

to be won by your own unaided exertions. Therefore, 
depend as little as possible upon prospects of advantages 
from others, all of whom, you will find, have enough ado 
with themselves. Be liberal, affable, and kind ; but, 
knowing that you cannot do more injury to society than 
by greatly injuring yourself, exercise a just caution in giv 
ing way to the solicitations of your friends. Never be too 
ready to convince yourself that it is right to involve your 
self largely, in order to help any person into a particular 
station in society ; rather let him begin at the bottom, and 
he will be all the better fitted for his place, when he reaches 
it, by having fought his way up through the lower stages. 



LEISURE. 2/5 



LEISURE. 

THE most fallacious ideas prevail respecting leisure. Peo 
ple are always saying to themselves, " I would do this, 
and I would do that, if I had leisure." Now, there is no 
condition in which the chance of doing any good is less 
than in the condition of leisure. The man fully employed 
may be able to gratify his good dispositions by improving 
himself or his neighbours, or serving the public in some 
useful way ; but the man who has all his time to dispose 
of as he pleases, has but a poor chance, indeed, of doing 
so. To do increases the capacity of doing ; and it is far 
less difficult for a man who is in a habitual course of exer 
tion to exert himself a little more for an extra purpose, 
than for the man who does little or nothing to put himself 
into motion for the same end. This is owing to a principle 
of our moral nature, w hich is called the msinertics, literally, 
the strength of inactivity, but which I will explain at once 
to unlearned persons, by reminding them, that, to set a 
common child's hoop a-going in the first place, requires a 
smarter stroke than to keep it in motion afterwards. There 
is a reluctance in all things to be set a-going ; but when that 
is got over, then every thing goes sweetly enough. Just 
so it is with the idle man. In losing the tidbit, he loses 
the power of doing. But a man who is busy about some 
regular employment for a proper length of time every day, 
can very easily do something else during the remaining 
hours ; indeed, the recreation of the weary man is apt to 
be busier than the perpetual leisure of the idle. As he 
walks through the world, his hands hang unrnuffled and 
ready by his side, and he can sometimes do more by a sin 
gle touch in passing, than a vacant man is likely to do in a 
twelvemonth. 

All this is exemplified fully in the actual practice of life. 
Who, I would ask, compose the class who perform most 



276 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

of the business of public charity ? It is not those who are 
highly endowed with wealth and leisure. It is not in ge 
neral those whom wealth has placed at ease, but the class 
of well-employed traders and manufacturers, who, to ap 
pearance, are entirely engrossed by their own concerns. 
These men will snatch an occasional hour from their well- 
employed lives perhaps an hour that ought to be devoted 
to relaxation and do you more real work in that time 
than an idle man would accomplish in the half of his 
yaw-yaw existence. What is curious, if you place the 
busy trader on the shelf, as no longer requiring to work for 
his subsistence, he immediately loses the power of doing 
these little superfluous acts of goodness. In getting out 
of the way of all exertion, he becomes unable to do any 
thing, even when he wishes it. On the same principle, 
men never give a job to a lawyer or any body else, who is 
not pretty well occupied. And this is from no irrational 
homage to the name of the man, as is sometimes thought ; 
it is because the man who does much is most likely to do 
more,' and most likely to do it well. 

Let no man, then, cry for leisure in order to do any thing. 
Let him rather pray that he may never have leisure. If 
he really wishes to do any good thing, he will always find 
time for it, by properly arranging his other employments. 
The person who thus addresses the public has acquired the 
power of doing so, such as it is, not by having had a great 
deal of time at his own disposal, but solely by ravishing the 
inglorious hours which the most of men spend in unpro 
fitable and unenjoyed pleasures, and employing them in the 
cultivation of his mind. There is an anecdote told of a 
French author of distinction, who by regularly employing, 
in a few jottings, the five minutes which his wife caused 
him to wait every day while she dressed for dinner, at last 
formed a book ; certainly not the least meritorious of his 
works. Hazlitt also remarks, that many men walk as much 
idly upon Pall Mall in a few years, as would carry them 
round the globe. In fact, it may be said that to ask for 



LEISURE. 277 

leisure or time to do any ordinary thing, is equivalent to a 
confession that we are indifferent about doing it. 

It is very fair that the busy man should be at ease at 
last. It is often the object for which he works. Neither 
can it be allowed that there is any absolute claim upon the 
wealthy to exert themselves for the good of the community. 
Wealth must be enjoyed as the possessor pleases, or it is 
no longer wealth, and one of the objects of industry is 
taken away. But it would be of vast importance both 
to the wealthy idle themselves and to the community if 
their tastes could oftener be directed to some beneficial em 
ployment within the range of their abilities and influence. 
It is a shame to those who are entirely at their own dis 
posal, that almost all the general good that is done in the 
world is done by those who are already overworked* It 
might rather be expected that the affluent, who have no 
particular business of their own to attend to, should de 
vote themselves to the general good. This is the more 
particularly to be expected, when we observe the worse 
than trifles upon which idle opulence generally employs 
itself. If actual vice be avoided, the most contemptible 
frivolities and paltry amusements are sought after, for the 
purpose of disgraceful word ! killing time. Sometimes 
we find the universal necessity of doing something, taking 
a good direction, or one at least rather on goodness' side. 
The female part of the affluent world are often found to 
be actively benevolent ; and nothing can be more laudable. 
But the ells of idle humanity, that every day walk the 
street in vain, are beyond all mensuration. Now, I am 
convinced that if these leisurely persons only once fell into 
the way of employing themselves for some good end, they 
would find themselves far more comfortable than they are 
at present. They would suddenly feel the inspiration of a 
worthy purpose of existence. They would feel the self- 
importance of active exertion the majesty of industry ; 
that lofty feeling which even the hard- working housewife 
feels in increased proportion amidst the sloperies of a wash- 



278 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ing Saturday, and which gives to the early riser his right 
to taunt and look down upon all the recumbent part of 
mankind. The gentlemen must think of it. They must 
up and be doing. It is, I repeat, a disgrace to them, in 
this universally busy scene, to let all the laurels of charity 
and kindness be carried away by those who have enough 
ado to obtain their own subsistence. 



MY NATIVE BAY. 

My native bay is calm and bright, 

As e'er it was of yore 
When, in the days of hope and love, 

I stood upon its shore ; 
The sky is glowing, soft, and blue, 

As once in youth it smiled, 
When summer seas and summer skies 

Where always bright and mild. 
The sky how oft hath darkness dwelt, 

Since then, upon its breast ; 
The sea how oft have tempests broke 

Its gentle dream of rest 1 
So oft hath darker woe come o'er 

Calm self-enjoying thought ; 
And passion's storms a wilder scene 

Within my bosom wrought. 
Now, after years of absence, pass'd 

In wretchedness and pain, 
I come and find those seas and skies 

All calm and bright again. 
The darkness and the storm from both 

Have trackless pass'd away ; 
And gentle as in youth, once more 

Thou seem'st, my native bay ! 
Oh, that, like thee, when toil is o'er, 

And all my griefs are past, 
This ravaged bosom might subside 

To peace and joy at last ! 
And while it lay all calm like thee, 

In pure unruffled sleep. 
Oh, might a heaven as bright as this 

Be mirror'd in its deep ! 

R. C 



ADVANCEMENT IN LIFE. 279 



ADVANCEMENT IN LIFE. 

IT is very certain that all men are not born to be Frank 
lins ; and, likewise, that if any considerable number of 
such persons were to arise, their utility and their distinc 
tion would be diminished. There is a good old proverb, 
however " aim at a silk gown, and you may get a sleeve 
of it ;" which may be followed out, both to the advantage 
of individuals and to the benefit of the community. 

First, there is one great maxim that no youth should 
ever want before his eyes, namely, that hardly any thing 
is beyond the attainment of real merit. Let a man set up 
almost any object before him on entering life, and, if his 
ambition be of that genuine kind which springs from talent, 
and is not too much for his prudence, there is a strong chance 
in his favour that a keen and steady pursuit of the object 
will make him triumph at last. It is very common, when 
the proposal of a young man's entry into life is discussed, 
to hear complaints as to the pre-occupation of every field 
of adventure by unemployed multitudes. There may occa 
sionally be some cause for this ; but the general truth is 
undeniable, that, in spite of every disadvantage, men are 
rising daily to distinction in every profession the broadest 
shoulders, as usual, making their way best through the 
crowd. It is the slothful and the fearful that generally 
make such complaints ; and they obviously do so in order 
to assure themselves that they are not altogether wrong in 
continuing to mispend their time. When we hear of the 
overcrowded state of any proposed profession, we are apt 
to overlook that an immense proportion of those engaged 
in it are destined, by the weakness of their character, and 
want of specific qualifications, to make no way for them 
selves, and must soon be the same, so far as rivalry is con 
cerned, as if they had never entered it. If the entrant, 
then, has only a well-grounded confidence in his own 



280 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

powers of exertion and perseverance, he need hardly be 
afraid to enter any profession. With the serious desire of 
well-doing at heart, and some tolerable share of ability, he 
is sure very soon to get ahead of a great proportion of those 
already in the field. Only let him never despair that is, 
tell himself it is all in vain, in order that he may become 
idle with a good conscience and there is hardly any fear 
of him. 

The present writer entertains some different ideas re 
specting original humility of circumstances from what are 
generally prevalent. The common notion is, that humble 
circumstances are a great obstruction at the outset of life, 
and that the more difference between a man's origin and 
his eventual condition, the greater is the wonder, and the 
greater his merit. Since it appears, however, that so large 
a proportion of distinguished men were poor at the begin 
ning, a question may naturally arise, are not men just the 
more apt, on that account, to become eminent ? Although 
we are all familiar as possible with instances of fortunes 
made from nothing, it will be found, on recollection, that 
cases are comparatively rare of men who began with for 
tunes having ended by greatly increasing them. Many a 
poor boy has made twenty thousand pounds before he was 
forty years of age ; but few who had ten thousand at the 
age of majority are found to double it with their years. 
Here here is a reason for hope. The fact is, large sums 
are not to be acquired without an appreciation and an 
understanding of the meanest financial details. To make 
pounds, we must know the value of shillings ; we must 
have felt before how much good could sometimes be done* 
how much evil could sometimes be avoided, by the pos 
session of a single penny ! For want of this knowledge, the 
opulent youth squanders or otherwise loses more, perhaps, 
than he gains. But he who has risen from the ranks knows 
the value and powers of every sum, from the lowest up 
wards, and, as saving is the better part of the art of acquir 
ing money, he never goes back a step his whole march 



ADVANCEMENT IN LIFE. 281 

is ONWARD. At the very worst, it is only a question of 
time. Say one man begins at twenty with a good capital, 
and another at the same age with none. For want of 
experience, and through other causes above mentioned, 
it is not likely that the former person has made much 
advance within the first ten years. Now, ten years is an 
immense space to the individual who only commenced 
with good resolutions. In that time, if he has not accumu 
lated actual money, he may quite well have secured good 
reputation and credit, which, prudently managed, is just 
money of another kind. And so, while still a young man, 
he is pretty much upon a par with him who seemed to start 
with such superior advantages. In fact, fortune, or ori 
ginal good circumstances, appear to the present writer as 
requisites of a very unimportant character, compared with 
talent, power of application, self-denial, and honourable 
intentions. The fortunate to use the erroneous language 
of common life are selected from those who have pos 
sessed the latter indispensable qualifications in their best 
combinations : and as it is obvious that young men of for 
tune (necessarily the smaller class) have only a chance, 
according to their numbers, of possessing them, it follows, 
as a clear induction, that the great mass of the prosperous 
were originally poor. 

TALENT It is a common cry that those who succeed best 
in life are the dullest people, and that talent is too fine a 
quality for common pursuits. There cannot be a greater 
fallacy than this. It may be true that some decidedly stupid 
people succeed through the force of a dogged resolution, 
which hardly any man of superior genius could have sub 
mitted to. But I am disposed to dispute, in a great mea 
sure, the existence of talent, where I do not find it at once 
productive of superior address in ordinary affairs, and at 
tended by a magnanimity which elevates the possessor above 
all paltry and vicious actions. The genius which only 
misleads its possessor from the paths of prudence, or ren 
ders him a ridiculous and intolerable member of society, is 



282 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

too much allied to Bedlam to be taken into account ; and 
in reality, there is nowhere so much of what is called 
genius as in the madhouses.* The imputation of dulness 
to a man who has prospered in life, will be found by im 
partial inquirers, in nine cases out of ten, to be a mere 
consolatory appliance to the self-love of one who has nei 
ther had the talent nor the morality to prosper in life him 
self. Let every man, then, who possesses this gift, rejoice 
in it with all his heart, and seek by every means to give it 
proper guidance and direction. 

APPLICATION is another of the indispensable requisites. 
Detached efforts, though they may individually be great, 
can never tell so well in the aggregate as a regular and 
constant exertion, where the doings of one day fortify and 
improve the doings of the preceding, and lead on with 
certainty to the better doings of the next. It is not eco 
nomical to work by fits and starts ; more exertion is re 
quired, by that system, for a certain end, than what is 
necessary in the case of a continuous effort, and thus the 
irregular man is apt to fall far behind his rivals. Men of 
ability are apt to despise application as a mean and grub 
bing qualification which is only a piece of overweening 
self-love on their part, and likely to be the very means of 
frustrating all the proper results of their ability. On the 
other hand, the industrious man is apt to despair for want 
of ability not seeing that the clever fellows are liable to 
the weakness we describe, which causes them to be con 
stantly giving way in the race to mere plodders. Besides, 
while few faults are more common than an over-estimation 
of one's self, it is equally obvious that many men only dis 
cover their abilities by chance, and that all of us possess 
latent powers, which might be turned to good account, if 
we only knew and had confidence in them. No man, there 
fore, should be too easily dashed on the subject of his abi- 



This remark is borrowed from the conversation of a medical friend. 



ADVANCEMENT IN LIFE. 283 

lities. He should try, and, with the aid of a persevering 
industry, he may do wonders such as he never dreamt of. 

SELF-DENIAL Perhaps among all the qualifications 

which, in a combined form, lead to fortune, none is more 
absolutely indispensable than this. A man may have ta 
lent, may have application, both in abundance; but if he 
cannot resist vulgar temptations, all is in vain. The 
Scotch, as a nation, are characterised immensely by self- 
denial, and it is the main ground of their prosperity both 
at home and abroad. It is one of the noblest of the virtues, 
if not, indeed, the sole virtue which creates all the rest. 
If we are obliged at every moment to abandon some sacred 
principle in order to gratify a paltry appetite ; if the exten 
sive future is perpetually to be sacrificed for the sake of the 
momentary present ; if we are to lead a life of Esau-like 
bargains from the first to the last then we are totally unfit 
for any purpose above the meanest. Self-indulgence makes 
brutes out of gods ; self-denial is the tangent line by which 
human nature trenches upon the divine- Now, self-in 
dulgence is not inherent except in very few natures ; it is 
almost invariably the result of " evil communications" in 
youth, and generally becomes a mere use or habit. The 
most of error arises from the contagion of example. A 
youth at first debauches himself because he sees others do 
it ; he feels, all the time, as if he were sacrificing merely 
to the glory of bravado ; and there is far more of martyr 
dom in it than is generally supposed. But though a person 
at first smokes in order to show how much disgust he can 
endure, he soon comes to have a real liking for tobacco, 
And thus, for the paltriest indulgences, which only are 
so from vicious habit, and perhaps, after all, involve as 
much dissatisfaction as pleasure, we daily see the most 
glorious and ennobling objects cast, as it were, into hell, 
fire. 

We are by no means hostile to all amusement. The 
mass of men require a certain quantity of amusement al 
most as regularly as their daily food. But amusement may 



284 , SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL 

be noxious or innocent, moderate or immoderate. The 
amusements which can be enjoyed in the domestic circle, 
or without company at all, are the safest ; there is great 
danger in all which require an association of individuals to 
carry them into effect. Upon the whole, a multitude of 
bosom friends is the most pernicious evil that ever besets 
a man in the world. Each becomes a slave to the deprav 
ed appetites of the rest, and is at last ulcerated all over 
with their various evil practices. At the very best, he is 
retarded to the general pace, and never finds it possible to 
get a single vantage hour, in order to steal a march upon 
his kind. 

HONOURABLE INTENTIONS are also indispensably neces 
sary. The reverse is simply want of sense and understand 
ing ; for it is obvious to every one who has seen the least 
of human life, that infinitely more is lost in reputation and 
means and opportunities of well-doing, by an attempt to 
gain an undue advantage, than what can in general cases 
be gained. If we had to live only for a short time certain, 
trickery might be the most expedient course, so far as this 
world is concerned; but if a man contemplates a life 
above a single twelvemonth, he will endeavour, by the 
guarded correctness of his actions, to acquire the good 
character which tends so much to eventual prosperity. 
The dishonest man, in one sense, may be termed the most 
monstrous of all self-flatterers ; he thinks he can cheat 
the whole of the remaining part of mankind which cer 
tainly is no trifling compliment. He soon finds, how 
ever, that he was seen through all the time by those whom 
he thought mere children, and his blindness and silly arro 
gance receive their deserved punishment. Even where 
the depravity may be of a very slight kind, it is alike in 
vain. In ordinary transactions, the one party deals with 
the other exactly according to his character ; if the one 
be in general disposed to overreach, the other is just pro- 
portionably on his guard ; so that there is no result but 
trouble, and a bad name. One thing should be strongly 



ADVANCEMENT IN LIFE. 285 

impressed upon such persons : they are far more generally 
understood and watched than they are aware of; for the 
world, so long as it can simply take care of itself without 
much difficulty, is not disposed to adopt the dangerous task 
of a monitor. The police-officer knows of many rogues 
whom he passes every day on the street ; he never lays 
hold of any, unless for some particular offence. 

Such are the principal qualities necessary for advance 
ment in life, though any one of them, without much or any 
of the other, will, if not counteracted by negative proper 
ties, be sure to command a certain degree of success. He 
who is about to start in the race would do well to ponder 
upon the difficulties he has to encounter, and make up a 
manful resolution to meet them with a full exertion of all 
his powers. To revert to the general question what is 
it that enables one man to get in advance of his fellows? 
The answer is obvious : it can only be his doing more 
than the generality of them, or his enduring more privation 
than they are generally inclined to do [that is, self-denial], 
in order that he may acquire increased power of doing. 
The fault of most unsuccessful persons is their want of an 
adequate idea of what is to be done, and what is to be en 
dured. They enter business as into a game or a sport, and 
they are surprised, after a time, to find that there is a prin 
ciple in the affair they never before took into account 
namely, the tremendous competition of other men. With 
out being able to do and suffer as much as the best men of 
business, the first place is not to be gained; without being 
able to do and suffer as much as the second order of 
men of business, the second place is not to be gained ; and 
so on. New candidates should therefore endeavour to 
make an estimate of the duties necessary for attaining a cer 
tain point, and not permit themselves to be thrown out in 
the race for want of a proper performance of those duties. 
They should either be pretty certain of possessing the re 
quisite powers of exertion and endurance, or aim at a lower 
point, to wliich their powers may seem certainly adequate. 



286 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 



CONTROLLERS. GENERAL. 

IT is a prevailing notion, that people are all so exclusively 
engrossed with their own concerns in this world, as to 
have no time or opportunity to take the least interest in 
those of their neighbours. No idea could be more mis 
taken. The truth is, a great many people perhaps a 
third of the population of large towns, and three-fourths of 
those in small ones are far more anxious about the con 
cerns of their neighbours than about their own. In fact, 
society in this respect resembles the ape department in a 
menagerie, where, it is said, every individual chatterer 
neglects his own pan of meat (opposite his cage), and 
stretches with all his might to reach the mess of some dis 
tant companion in captivity, who, on his part, tries, with 
equal straining and exertion, to rob some other friend. 
The case, however, differs immensely as to intention. The 
monkeys, as we seriously believe, act thus from a wish to 
eat all the neighbouring pans of meat in the first place, 
after which they think it will be time enough to attend 
coolly to their own. But human beings look after each 
other's morals and worldly prosperity through the most 
generous impulses. They think it selfish to be always at 
tending to their own affairs, and that it would be an utter 
defiance of the greatest law of nature, if they were only to 
look after themselves. Our own business requires, per 
haps, the first attention, but common justice to our race 
demands that all our spare time, at least, should be devoted 
to a supervision of the concerns of other people, and a sur 
veillance of their moral conduct. We are to love our 
neighbours as ourselves, and, in order to testify that we 
love them, we are to do as we do with children, castigate 
them properly whenever they misbehave. 

It is lamentable to think how negligent some large classes 
of society are respecting the affairs of their neighbours. In 
large cities, the more actively engaged citizens go on from 



CONTROLLERS. GENERAL. 287 

year to year in the pursuit of their own advantage, never 
casting a single thought upon their next-door neighbours, 
unless, perhaps, to make a transient inquiry into the state of 
their credit. Is it not fortunate, that, while the men are 
thus apt to get wrapped up in their own sordid interests, 
the fairer and more generous part of the race are still in 
general sufficiently at leisure to see after their neighbours ? 
What would society do without these amiable controllers- 
general ? or what would society do, if these amiable con 
trollers were to get so much engaged too, as to have no 
time for the affairs of their friends ? It is dreadful even to 
think of such a calamity. How many poor improvident 
wretches would, in such an event, be left to sink or swim 
as chance directed ! How naughty the world at large 
would become ! 

Let us contemplate the delightful picture of one of these 
friends of society. She is generally a person very much 
at leisure ; for without leisure, that natural preference of 
our own concerns to those of others precludes all exer 
tion of the faculty : she is also, in general, placed in a 
tolerably secure position in the world, whence she may 
survey, with compassionate and patronising eyes, the poor 
strugglers beneath her. Virtuous she is, as virtuous can 
be ; that is to say, she is altogether beyond temptation. 
Herself and all her own immediate friends have been for 
tunate ; therefore she has a kind of prescriptive title to 
speak freely of the misfortunes of others. It is incredible 
what exertions this amiable person will make to procure 
data for her remarks, or, to speak more properly, grounds 
whereon she may proceed in her benevolent exertions. 
Charity being an excuse for every thing, she will even de 
scend so far from her dignity as to institute inquiries, 
through servants and children, into the concerns of those 
persons whom she has taken under her patronage. Her 
own Betty, having the same turn with herself, takes fre 
quent opportunities of visiting the kitchens of her friends ; 
and all the remarks that the girl has been able to make up- 



288 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

on the external state of things there, and all the prattle she 
has been able to pick up from the servants in that house, 
is brought home and faithfully detailed to her mistress, 
who accidentally, for that purpose, opens a conversation 
with her. Nor is this all. Through the impulse of her 
benevolent wishes, the good lady will often take informa 
tion from her servant, which she has learned from another 
servant, respecting the concerns of a family in which that 
other servant has perhaps a sister or a friend ; her sincere 
desire of doing good being so strong as to reconcile her to 
every possibility of misrepresentation, which a story may 
be supposed to undergo in its progress through so many 
mouths. It is also to be observed, that she is not exclu 
sively attentive to the concerns of those whom she actually 
knows. The acquaintances of her acquaintances, and 
their acquaintances again, even to the third generation, she 
will inquire about with equal solicitude ; and if she knows 
any thing disagreeable connected with your friends, or any 
thing that might be thought to unfit them for your acquaint, 
ance, she always very kindly lets you hear of it, so that you 
may be quite upon your guard. 

" What do you think?" the talk, perhaps, thus pro 
ceeds ; ' ' they say she is such a fine lady that she never 
enters her kitchen : she never knows any day what is to 
be for dinner : all that kind of thing she leaves to her ser 
vants. And such quantities of company they keep ! 
Hardly a night but what there are more or less visitors. 
A neighbour of ours, Mrs Blackweli, has an aunt who 
lives opposite them ; and she says that the racket is with 
out end. I'm sure I was just saying to our goodman the 
other day, that if we were to go on in such a way [be it 
marked, the speaker is reputed to be in infinitely better 
circumstances than the party commented on], we could 
not go on long. Puir young things ! I'm greatly con 
cerned about them although, to be sure, it's not my busi 
ness. I was at the school with her mother, and I would 
like to see them keep right, if it were possible. Young 



CONTROLLERS-GENERAL. 289 

folk are often newfangled about things at first. They 
think every body that they see is their friend and its 
'this one, come to your supper,' and ' that one, come to 
your dinner,' as if they could not get past it. When they 
come to my time o' life, they'll not be sae flush." 

" They say she's highly accomplished," thus runs an 
other strain of remarks ; "plays on the piano-forte and 
harp draws speaks French and Italian. That would 
be all very well if he had a fortune to keep it up ; but a 
poor man's wife ! Commend me to a woman that can 
darn her husband's stockings, and help to get ready his 
dinner. I think there's naething like a gude plain educa 
tion reading, writing, and sewing what mair does a wo 
man need ? The goodman and I were often advised to 
send our girls to learn music, but I never thought it their 
station. It just puts a parcel o' nonsense into a girl's 
head. Our lasses never learned ony thing but what they 
could mak a gude use o' ; while, there's Mary Foster does 
nothing but read novells from morning till night ; she's one 
o' your fine misses. If our girls were to bring a novell 
into our house, I would put it at the back of the fire, 
though there was na another novell i' the world." 

It is said that in nunneries, where there is neither vice, 
nor the possibility of it, the ladies, if unable to talk real 
scandal, make up for it by censorious remarks upon the 
most trifling foibles in their companions, or upon the most 
unimportant failures in the performance of the most unim 
portant duties. If a holy sister has been observed to smile 
at a wrong moment, if she has miscounted a bead, or trip 
ped in her gown while walking in a procession, there is as 
much prattle about it as if she had committed a real of 
fence. Just so, in a country town, every trivial incident 
becomes a subject of comment for those amiable people 
who make a point of attending to every body's business 
but their own. The consequence is, that every person 
moves in a country town as if he were upon an ambuscad 
ing party : he sends by stratagem for every necessary of life 



290 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

which he requires : he takes all kinds of byways and back 
roads to escape observation, and cannot so much as cross 
the street without fearing he will be circumvented. Any 
thing like a good round thumping impropriety is hailed in 
such a place like rain in a drought. The most of the mat 
ters of remark are very small deer, hardly worth hunting 
down. When one of a more important character arises, 
it is quite a godsend. Suppose, for instance, the failure of 
some unfortunate merchant, who has been ruined by mere 
simplicity of character. The country people, somehow, 
have a most exaggerated idea of the mischiefs of bankruptcy. 
A bankrupt, in their eyes, is a person of distinguished cri 
minality almost enough to make him be regarded as a 
world's wonder. In proportion, therefore, to their pre 
vious remarks for the edification of the unhappy man, is 
their wholesome severity afterwards. They are surprised 
to find that, after such an event, he still bears the ordinary 
shape of a human being that he has not become signalised 
by some external transfiguration, of a kind sufficiently aw 
ful to indicate his offence. Another thing they are asto 
nished at that the family of a bankrupt should continue 
to have the usual appetites of human beings that they 
should not, indeed, have altogether ceased to eat, drink, 
or sleep. The following is very nearly a conversation 
which really occurred, on such an occasion, in a some 
what humble rank of mercantile life. 

" Weel, hae ye heard the news?" 

" What news, woman ?" 

" Ou, hae ye no heard it? James Sinclair's shop's no 
open this mornin' that's a'." 

" Aih, weel, has it come to that at last ? I aye thought 
it. It was easy seeing yon could na stand lang. Sic on- 
gauns as they had for a while sic dresses sic parties ! 
But every thing comes to its level at last. I wonder folk 
dinna 'think shame to gang on sae wi' other folk's siller. 
It's a perfect black-burning disgrace. And she's just as 
muckle to blame as him. There was hersell, just last Sun- 



A TURN FOR BUSINESS. 

day eight days, at the kirk \vi' a new pelisse and a bannet, 
and the laddies ilk ane o' them wi' new leather caps. Fse 
warrand there was nae bannocks ever seen in their house 
naething but gude wheat bread. Whenever a bairn 
whinged for a piece, it buid to get a shave o' the laiff. 
Atweel, her grandfather, auld George Morrison, was na 
sae ill to serve. Mony a claut o' cauld parritch he gat frae 
my aunty Jess, and was thankfu' to get them." 

" Na, but, woman, I saw Jamie himsell gaun up the 
street this mornin', and a superfine coat on his back just 
the same as ever. Na, the lass was seen this forenoon 
getting a leg o' lamb a fifteenpence leg it was, for our 
Jenny got the neebor o't the same as if naething ava 
had happened. But, of course, this'll no gang on lang 
They'll be roupit out, stab and stow, puir thochtless crea 
tures ; and I'm sure I dinna ken what's to come o' them. 
She has nae faither's house to gang back to now. They'll 
hae to set up some bit sma' public, I reckon." 

" Heaven keep us a' frae extravagance I had never 
ony brow o' that new plan she had o' pitting black silk 
ribands round the callants' necks, instead o' cotton nap 
kins." 

Such are a few of the remarks of our good friends the 
controllers-general of society ; and we are very sure that 
few people alive but what must look upon them as a most 
useful, most exemplary, and most benevolent class of per- 



A TURN FOR BUSINESS. 

NEXT to a thorough grounding in good principles, perhaps 
the thing most essential to success in life is a habit of com 
municating easily with the world. By entering readily into 
conversation with others, we not only acquire information 
by being admitted to the stores which men of various modes 
of thinking have amassed, and thereby gain an insight into 



'292 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the peculiarities of human character, but those persons into 
whose society we may be accidentally thrown are gratified 
to think that they have been able to afford instruction. 
Seeing that we appreciate their favourite subject, they con 
ceive a high opinion of our penetration, and not unfre- 
quently exert themselves wonderfully to promote our 
interests. Men in business, particularly, who have this 
happy turn of being able to slide as it were into discourse, 
and to throw it into that train which is best suited to the 
capacities and humours of others, are wonderfully indebted 
to it for the run of customers it entices to their shops. A 
stately, grave, or solemn manner, is very inappropriate in 
measuring stuffs by the yard ; and though a man be pene 
trated by the deepest sense of gratitude, if his bow be 
stiff, and his countenance not of a relaxing cast, he makes 
not half so favourable an impression as another who may 
not perhaps be a more deserving person in the main, but 
has a more graceful method of acknowledging his obli 
gations. It is astonishing, too, at how cheap a rate good 
will is to be purchased. An insinuating way of testifying 
satisfaction with the pleasantness of the weather, is often 
a very effectual way of extending popularity ; it is regarded 
as an act of condescension when addressed to some, while 
with others it is received as the indication of a happy tem 
perament, which is at all times attractive. A person who 
*' has little to say," or, in other words, who does not deign 
to open his mouth except when it is indispensably necessary, 
never proves generally acceptable. You will hear such a 
one described as " a very good sort of man in his way ;" 
but people rather avoid him. He has neither the talent of 
conversing in an amusing vein himself, nor of leading on 
others to do so ; and they are only the arrantest babblers 
who are contented with an inanimate listener. I remem 
ber a striking example of the various fortune of two persons 
in the same profession, who happened to be of those dif 
ferent dispositions. 

Two pedlars made their rounds in the same district of 



A TURN FOR BUSINESS. 293 

country. The one was a tall, thin man, with a swarthy 
complexion. Nothing could exceed this fellow's anxiety to 
obtain customers ; his whole powers seemed to be directed 
to the means of disposing of his wares. He no sooner 
arrived at a farm-house than he broached the subject 
nearest his heart " Any thing wanted in my line to-day?" 
He entered into a most unqualified eulogium on their ex 
cellency ; they were all unequalled in fineness ; he could 
sell them for what might be said to be absolutely nothing ; 
and as for lasting, why, to take his word for it, they would 
wear for ever. He chose the table where the light was 
most advantageous, proceeded immediately to undo the la 
byrinth of cord with which his goods were secured, and 
took the utmost pains to exhibit their whole glories to the 
eyes of the admiring rustics. If the farmer endeavoured 
to elicit from him some information concerning the state of 
the crops in the places where he had been travelling, he 
could only afford a brief and unsatisfactory answer, but was 
sure to tack to the tail of it the recommendation of some 
piece of west of England cloth which he held in his hand 
ready displayed. Nay, if the hospitality of the goodwife 
made him an offer of refreshment before he entered upon 
business, he most magnanimously, but unpedlar-like, re 
sisted the temptation to eat, animated by the still stronger 
desire to sell. There was no possibility of withdrawing 
him for a moment from his darling topic. To the master 
he said, " Won't you buy a coat?" to the mistress, 
" Won't you buy a shawl?" to the servant girls, " Won't 
you buy a gown a-piece ?" and he earnestly urged the 
cowherd to purchase a pair of garters, regardless of the 
notorious fact that the ragged urchin wore no stockings. 
But all his efforts were ineffectual ; even his gaudiest 
ribands could not melt the money out of a single female 
heart ; and his vinegar aspect grew yet more meagre as he 
restored each article untouched to his package. 

The rival of this unsuccessful solicitor of custom was a 
short, squat man, fair-haired and ruddy. He came in with 



294 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

a hearty salutation, and set down his pack in some corner, 
where, as he expressed himself, it might be " out of the 
way." He then immediately abandoned himself to the full 
current of conversation, and gave a detail of every parti 
cular of news that was within his knowledge. He could 
tell the farmer every thing that he desired to know what 
number of corn-stalks appeared in the barn-yards wher 
ever he had been, and what quantity of grain still remain 
ed uncut or in shock, and he took time to enumerate the 
whole distinctly. He was equally well prepared in other 
departments of intelligence, and so fascinating was his gos 
sip, that, when the duties of any member of the family 
called them out of hearing, they were apt to linger so long, 
that the goodwife declared he was " a perfect offput to a' 
wark." This, however, was not meant to make him abate 
of his talkative humour ; and neither did he : the whole 
budget was emptied first, and he received in turn the narra 
tives of all and sundry. Then came the proposal from 
some of those whom he had gratified with his news, to 
** look what was in the pack." The goods were accord 
ingly lugged from their place of concealment, and every 
one's hand was ready to pick out some necessary or some 
coveted piece of merchandise. The master discovered 
that, as he would be needing a suit ere long, it was as 
well to take it now. The mistress was just waiting for 
Thomas coming round to supply herself with a variety of 
articles, " for," quoth she, " mony things are needit in 
a house." The servants exhorted each other to think 
whether they did not require something, for it was impos 
sible to say when another opportunity of getting it might 
occur. The ellwand was forthwith put into diligent re 
quisition, the scissors snipt a little bit of the selvage, and 
an adroit " screed" separated the various cloths from the 
rapidly diminishing webs. The corners of many chests 
gave up their carefully-hoarded gains, with which cheap 
remnants were triumphantly secured. In the midst of this 
transfer of finery, the poor herd-boy looked on with a coun- 



A TURN FOR BUSINESS. 295 

tenance so wofully expressive of the fact that he had not 
a farthing to spend, that some one took compassion on him, 
and, having laid out a trifling sum, had the satisfaction of 
making him perfectly happy with the equivalent, flinging 
it into his unexpectant arms, and exclaiming, " Here, 
callant, there's something for you !" What a multiplicity 
of pleasing emotions had this trader the tact of calling into 
exercise, all of them redounding tenfold to his own pro 
per advantage ! It was impossible to say whether he cul 
tivated his powers of talk from forethought, as knowing 
that they would produce a crisis favourable to his own 
interests, or if he indulged in them because gossiping was 
congenial to his own disposition. He had a sharp eye 
enough to what is called the main chance ; but at the same 
time he did not possess that degree of intellectual depth 
which we might expect to find in one who could calculate 
upon exciting the purchasing propensities by a method so 
indirect. Most probably, therefore, his success in business 
was more the result of an accidental cast of mind than of 
wisdom prepense, or any aptitude beyond common for the 
arts of traffic, as considered by themselves. 

Such, also, in most cases, is that talent which gets the 
name of " a fine turn for business." The possessor exerts 
his powers of pleasing, alike when engaged in the concerns 
of his profession, and in society when there is no object to 
serve but that of passing time agreeably. His engaging 
address is productive of commercial advantages, but it is 
not a thing acquired and brought into exercise solely for 
that end. Some people, no doubt, finding themselves to 
have a prepossessing manner, do employ it systematically 
to promote their views of business ; but by far the greater 
number employ it because they have it, and without re 
ference to the pecuniary profit that may accrue. The 
pecuniary profit, however, follows not the less as its con 
sequence ; and we have the satisfaction of seeing urbanity 
of manners almost uniformly rewarded by attaining to easy 
circumstances, while the man of a gruff unsocial humour 



298 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

has usually to maintain a hard struggle with fortune. The 
mere packing of knowledge into the heads of children is 
not the only thing required to ensure their future respect 
ability and happiness the qualities of the heart also de 
mand the fostering care of the instructor ; and since so 
much depends on their temper and behaviour to those 
around them, parents cannot be too assiduous in the cul 
tivation of affability, the possession of which virtue is the 
grand secret that confers ** a fine turn for business." 



SETTING UP. 

THE taking of a shop, whether to set up a new business 
or translate an old one, is always a matter of deep and 
anxious concernment. On such an occasion, one gene 
rally gets into a state of fidgetiness and perplexity, which 
is felt to be far from disagreeable. A sentiment of un 
wonted enterprise rises in his mind. He is going, he 
thinks, to do a great thing at least something beyond the 
usual range of commercial existence. In the first place, 
he pays a few sly and solitary visits to the place not that 
he goes in to look about him no, no ; he is not for some 
time up to that point. He tries first how the premises 
look when simply walked past as if by an unconcerned 
passenger. As he passes, he casts an affectedly careless 
glance at the door and windows, taking care, however, to 
receive as deep an impression as possible of the whole bear 
ing and deportment of the place. After walking to a suf 
ficient distance, he turns and walks back, and sees how it 
looks when approached from a different point of the com 
pass. Then he takes a turn along the other side of the 
street, or perhaps, if afraid to excite observation (and if the 
place be in Edinburgh), goes up a common stair, and takes 
a deliberate and secure observation from a window. His 



SETTING UP. '297 

feeling is almost exactly the same as that of a lover making 
observations of a mistress, whose figure he wishes to as 
certain before getting too deeply in love with her to put 
correct judgment out of the question. As, in the one case, 
stature is perhaps considered, complexion and outline of 
face duly weighed, and possibly some very modest inquiries 
instituted as to what Master Slender calls "possibilities," 
so, in the other, does the shop-inspector consider all the 
particulars of the aspect and likelihood of the contemplated 
premises. Shops, it must be understood, have characters, 
exactly like human beings. Some have an open, generous, 
promising countenance, while others have a contracted, 
sinister, louring expression of phiz, according to the quan 
tity of mason-work there may be in front. Some are of a 
far more accessible character than others, with a kind of 
facilis descensus in the entry that is in the highest degree 
favourable to custom. People can hardly avoid falling into 
such shops as they pass along the streets, for positively 
they gape like so many Scyllas for your reception, and 
goodwives, who, like Roderigo, have put money in their 
purses, are caught like so many rats without thinking of it. 
There are others, I grieve to say, with such a difficulty of 
entrance, either from a narrow door, a shut door, an eleva 
tion of the pavement, or a certain distance from the tho 
roughfare, that it requires an absolute determination to 
purchase such and such articles in such and such shops 
a full animus emendi, as lawyers would say to overcome 
the obstacle. Perhaps it does not matter for some busi 
nesses, which are not much overrun with competition, that 
they should be carried on in shops of this kind. If there 
be only one music-seller in the town, he might have his 
boutique in a twelfth story, and yet he would be sure to 
get all the natural custom of the place ; but in the case of 
one out of some five hundred haberdashers, or some two 
thousand grocers, it is absolutely imperative that he should 
be established in some place with a fatal facility of access. 
In all cases, there is a combination of qualities in shops, as 



298 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

well as in men and women. There is something inde 
scribable about it ; but an experienced eye, pretty well ac 
quainted with the characters of the streets [this is another 
subject] and parts of streets, could almost in a moment 
decide upon the probabilities of any given shop in a large 
city. He would combine in an instant in his own mind 
the various qualities, and, counting them into each other 
after the manner of Lieutenant Drummond, but by a 
figureless kind of arithmetic, assign at once the exact value 
of the shop to any class of traders. And shops have cha 
racters, too, in another sense of the word that is, they 
have reputations. Let a shop have all the apparent ad 
vantages in the world, yet, if it be a shop in which several 
persons have committed faux pas in business, it is naught. 
We often see an excellent shop thus lose caste, as it were, 
and become of hardly any value to its proprietor. Suppose 
some one has failed in it between terms, and deserted it : 
then do all the bill-stickers come in the first place, and 
paste it over with huge placards from top to bottom, exactly 
as a man drowned in the sea, however fine a fellow he may 
have been, gets encased in a few days in barnacles and 
shell-fish, the conchological part of the world taking that 
opportunity to show their contempt for the human. 
Though the character of the shop is not yet, perhaps, at 
its worst, yet, as it happens to remain unleased over the 
next term, the despairing landlord, some time in Septem 
ber or October, begins to let it "by the month or week" 
to all kinds of nameless people, who die and make no sign, 
such as men that show orreries, or auctioneers selling off 
bankrupt stocks, till at last it is as hopeless to think of 
getting a good tenant into it, as for a man with a bad cha 
racter to expect a good place in the Excise. The shop is 
marked for ever ; and unless, like the man in the Vicar of 
Wakefield, it can get a thoroughly new face and form, it 
has no chance whatsoever of resuming its place in the first 
rank of shops. 

After having completely made up his mind to take a par- 



SETTING UP. 29!> 

ticular shop, he goes and asks advice. His confessor* 
readily consents to take a walk with him in that direction, 
and give his candid opinion upon the subject. The two 
walk arm in arm past the premises, the confessor alone 
looking, lest, in endeavouring to observe, they should 
themselves be observed. " I'll tell you what," says the 
confessor, ' ' I like that shop very much. If the rent be at all 
suitable, I think you might do very well in it." It is then 
proposed that the confessor should step in to inquire the 
rent ; for though there be equal reasons why each should 
not expose himself as being on the outlook for a shop, the 
person not actually concerned has always least reluctance 
to submit to that disadvantage, being borne up, it would 
appear, by a conscious absence of design, while the guilt 
of the other would be betrayed by his first question. If 
the confessor reports favourably, then the individual who 
wants the premises ventures in himself, inspects the ac 
commodations, and makes farther inquiries. The two 
afterwards retire together, and have a deep and serious 
consultation upon the subject. 

In the deliberations of a person about to enter life in 
this way, there is always much that is extravagant, and 
much that is vague. I never yet knew it fail, that, if there 
was success at all, it arose from different sources from those 
which had been most securely calculated upon as likely to 
produce it. Suppose it is a business for the supply of some 
ordinary necessary of life : the novice reckons up almost 
all the people he knows in different parts of the town, as 
sure to become his customers ; he expects, indeed, hardly 
any other kind of support. It is found, however, when 
he commences, that one friend is engaged in one way, and 
another in another, so that, with the exception, perhaps, 
of some benevolent old lady, who sends occasionally to 
buy a few trifles from him upon principle, all is waste and 
barren where he expected to reap a plentiful harvest. He 

Bosom friend. 



300 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

finds, however, on tbe other hand, that he gets customers 
where he did not expect them. People seem to rise out of 
the earth, like the men of Cadmus, to buy from him. The 
truth is, he is resorted to by those who are disengaged at 
the time, and to whom his shop is convenient ; and all the 
good-will of all the friends in the world will not get over, 
for his sake, the difficulty of some engagement elsewhere, 
or the inconvenience of distance. 

It is also a very remarkable thing of people about to en 
ter upon such an enterprise as we are now describing, that 
they often overlook the most important considerations of 
all, and pay a very minute attention to trifles and things by 
the by. They perhaps fail to observe that there is not 
nearly enough of population around them to justify their 
setting up a particular business ; but they fully appreciate 
and lay great stress upon the circumstance of having a wa 
ter-pipe in the back room, by which they may be enabled 
to wash their hands at any time of the day. They may 
neither have capital nor range of intellect for the business ; 
but they are top-sure that the woman who sells small wares 
in the area will supply them with a light for the fire every 
morning. The shop may be unsuitable in many impor 
tant respects ; but nothing could be better in its way than 
the place for a sign above the door. Even where every 
matter of real consequence is well weighed and found an 
swerable, there is generally a fussy and festering anxiety 
about details, accompanied, in the sensations of the prin 
cipal party, by peculiar dryness of mouth and excoriation 
of thought-chewed lip. Matters may be such that a con 
fessor, with all the evil-foreboding qualities of a stormy- 
peterel, could not see a single flaw in the prospect ; yet it 
is amusing in such cases to hear the intending trader laying 
as much stress upon the peculiar situation of a fire-place 
in the back room, or the willingness of the landlord to 
supply a padlock to the door, as if in these things, and in 
nothing else, lay all his hopes of profit and eventual re 
spectability in life. 



SETTING UP. 301 

Suppose, however, that, after all kinds of fond and dreamy 
calculations, the shop has been taken and opened. I think 
there can hardly, for some time, be a more interesting sight 
to a benevolent on-looker, than the young and anxious tra 
der. The shop almost throws itself out at the windows to 
attract the observation of the passer by. The youth himself 
stands prompt and alert behind his counter, never idling for a 
moment, nor permitting his shopboy to idle, but both busy, 
cutting, and brushing, and bustling about, whether there 
be any thing to do or not. If but an old lady be seen look 
ing up at the window, or glancing in through the avenue 
of cheap prints that forms the doorway, what an angler-like 
eagerness in the mind of the trader that she would but 
walk in! nothing more required were she once within 
the shop, no fear but she is well done for. And when any 
body does go in to buy any thing, what a readiness to fly upon 
the article wanted with what serviceable rapidity of fin 
ger is the parcel unbound how polite and impresse the 
manner in which the object is presented and laid out for 
inspection what intense gratitude for the money where 
with it is paid ! With what a solicitous air is a card finally 
put into your hand as a memorandum of the place ! a 
proceeding only the more eloquent when not accompanied 
by an actual request for your farther custom. 

In a large city, advertising is necessarily resorted to as 
one of the modes, if not almost the only mode, of forming 
a business. Here it is obvious that a mere modest state 
ment of the case will not do. Something must be said, to 
make the setting up of the new shop appealUn the charac 
ter of an event. The public attention must be arrested 
to the circumstance, as if it were a matter of public con 
cernment. It must appear as if the interest of the com 
munity, and the interest of the shopman, were identified. 
No good bargains, no certainty of good articles, no safety of 
any kind, any where else. Such is the strain of his adver 
tisements, which, though they make the judicious grieve, 
ivake a vast number of other people, and even some of the 



302 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

judicious, buy. The secret is this : A warm and highly 
coloured style is necessary with a new shopkeeper, to meet 
and counteract the indifference of the public towards his 
concerns. If he put forth a cool schedule of his goods 
and chattels, it does nothing for him, because it does not 
single him out from the great herd. But if he uses a strik 
ing and emphatic phraseology, and even mixes a little 
extravagance in the composition, it is apt to fix attention 
to him and his shop ; and the people, being so warmly 
solicited, go to try. Again (and here, perhaps, lies the bet 
ter part of the thing), the frequency and fervour of his 
advertisements at least convey the impression that he is 
anxious for business, and ready and willing to execute it ; 
and as people like to deal with such persons, he is apt to 
be resorted to on that account, if upon no other. Frequent 
advertising is, upon the whole, a mark rather of a want of 
business, than of that kind of respectability which consists 
in the enjoyment of a concern already in full operation and 
productiveness ; but with beginners, it is quite indispen 
sable. 

The difficulty of establishing a new business is fortu 
nately got over in a small degree by a certain benevolent 
principle in human nature a disposition to encourage the 
efforts of the young. Some people act so much under this 
sentiment, or have such an appetite for the sincere thanks 
of the needy, that they go to hardly any shops but those 
of new beginners. The sight of a haberdasher's shop, in 
its first and many-coloured dawn, with prints, and ribands, 
and shop-bills, flying in all directions or of a provision 
shop, where hams project their noses into the very teeth, 
almost, of the passer by, and cheeses lie gaping with a 
quarter cut out, as if ready to eat rather than to be eaten 
or of a bookseller's shop, where every fresh and trig vo 
lume upon the counter seems as if it would take the slight 
est hint of your will, and, starting up, pack itself off, with 
out any human intervention whatsoever, to your lodgings 
is irresistible to these people. They must go in, whether 



CONSULS. 303 

they want any thing or not, and, after buying some trifle 
as an earnest of future custom, get themselves delighted 
with a full recital of all the young trader's feelings, and 
prospects, and capabilities, which he is ready to disclose to 
any one that will lay out sixpence, and appear to take an 
interest in his undertaking. If the customer be an old lady, 
she is interested in his youth, and inquires whether he be 
married or not. If not, then she wants him to get on well, 
so that he may soon be able to have a wife ; if he be, and 
have children, then she sympathises but the more keenly ; 
she thinks how much human happiness depends upon the 
success or failure of his undertaking how one fond soul 
will watch with intense anxiety the daily progress of the 
business, taking an interest in almost every penny that 
comes in, and how many little mouths unconsciously de 
pend upon what is done here, for the fare which childhood 
so much requires and so truly enjoys. She goes away, 
resolved to speak of the shop to all she knows, and per 
haps in two or three days she is able to bring in a flock of 
young ladies who want various articles, and who, recom 
mending the new beginner to others, aid materially in 
making up the steady business, which, with economy, per 
severance, and suitable personal qualities, he at length 
acquires. 



CONSULS. 

THE population of a large town is perpetually receiving 
accessions from the country not for the purpose of in 
creasing the aggregate of inhabitants, but to supply the 
waste of existence which takes place in such a scene, and 
to furnish a better selection for the peculiar offices and 
business of a city than what could be obtained from the 
successive generations of the ordinary inhabitants. No- 



304 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

thing can be more clear than that the youths born and 
bred in a large city have a less chance to establish them 
selves in its first-rate lines of business, than the lads who 
come in from the country as adventurers ; the fact being, 
that the latter are a selection of stirring clever spirits from 
a large mass, while only the same proportion of the former 
are likely to possess the proper merit or aptitude. Besides, 
the town-bred lad is apt to have some points of silly pride 
about his status in society ; he cannot do this and he can 
not do that, for fear of the sneers of the numerous con 
temporaries under whose eyes he is always walking. But 
the gilly, hot from Banff or Inverness, who comes into the 
town, " with bright and flowing hair, " rugging and riving for a 
place in some writer's office, or elsewhere why, the fellow 
would push into the most sacred parts of a man's house, like 
Roderick Random, and at the most unconscionable hours, in 
search of some prospective situation ; and when he has got 
it, what cares he about what he does (within honesty) in order 
to advance himself, seeing that all whoever knew him be 
fore are on the other side of the Grampians. Thus, the sons 
of the respectable people of large cities are constantly re 
tiring from the field some to the East Indies, some to the 
West some evanish nobody knows how while their places 
are taken by settlers from all parts of the country, whose 
children, in their turn, give way to fresh importations. Then, 
there is a constant tide towards the capital, of all kinds of 
rural people, who, having failed to improve their fortunes 
in the country, are obliged to try what may be done in the 
town. A broken-down country merchant sets up a gro 
cery shop in some suburb a farmer who has been obliged 
to relinquish \\\sdulcia arva, sets up an hostelry for carriers, 
and so forth. Every recurrence of Whitsunday and Mar 
tinmas sends in large droves of people on the tops of 
heavy carts, to pitch their camps in Edinburgh ; many of 
them with but very uncertain prospects of making a liveli 
hood when they get there, but yet the most of them asto 
nished a year or two after to find that they are still living, 



CONSULS. 305 

with the children all at the school as formerly, although, 
to be sure, the " reeky toun" can never be like the green 
meadows and dear blue hills which they have left behind 
in Menteith, or Ayrshire, or Tweeddale. What change, 
to be sure, to these good people, is the close alley of the 
Old Town of Edinburgh, the changeless prospect of house 
tops and chimneys, and the black wall opposite to their 
windows, ever casting its dark shade into their little apart 
ments, for the pleasant open fields in which they have 
sown and reaped for half a lifetime, and where every little 
rustic locality is endeared to them by a thousand delightful 
recollections ! But yet it is amazing how habit and ne 
cessity will reconcile the mind to the most alien novelties. 
And, even here, there are some blessings. The place of 
worship (always an important matter to decent country 
people in Scotland) is perhaps nearer than it used to be. 
Mr Simpson's chapel in the Potterrow is amazingly con 
venient. Education for the children, though dearer, is 
better and more varied. There is also a better chance of 
employment for the youngsters when they grow up. Then 

Sandy Fletcher, the carrier, goes past the door every 

Wednesday, with a cart-load of home reminiscences, and 
occasionally a letter or a parcel from some friend left at 
the place which they have deserted. By means of this 
excellent specimen of corduroyed honesty and worth, they 
still get all their butter and cheese from the sweet pas 
tures of their own country side, so that every meal almost 
brings forward some agreeable association of what, from 
feeling as well as habit, they cannot help still calling home. 
Then it is always made a point with them to plant them 
selves in an outskirt of the town, corresponding to the part 
of the country from which they come, and where they 
think they will have at least a specimen of the fresh air. 
A Clydesdale family, for instance, hardly ever thinks of 
taking a house (at least for the first year or two) any where 
but in the Grassmarket, or about Lauriston, or the Canal 
Basin. People from East Lothian harbour about the 

Y 



'306 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

Canongate. Bristo Street and the Causewayside are ap 
propriated indefeasibly to settlers from Selkirkshire and 
Peeblesshire. Poll the people thereabouts, and you will 
find a third of them natives of those two counties. In 
fact, the New Town, or any thing beyond the Cowgate, 
is a kind of terra borealis incognita to folk from the south 
of Scotland. They positively don't know any thing about 
those places, except, perhaps, by report. Well, it must 
certainly be agreeable, if one is banished from the country 
into a town, at least to dwell in one of the outlets towards 
that part of the country ; so that the exile may now and 
then cast his thoughts and his feelings straight along the 
highway towards the place endeared to him ; and if he 
does not see the hills which overlook the home of his heart, 
at least, perhaps, hills from which he knows he can see 
other hills, from which the spot is visible the long stages 
of fancy in straining back to the place 

" He ne'er forgets, though there he is forgot." 

There is one other grand source of comfort in fact, an 
indispensable convenience to people from the country 
living in a large city, namely, CONSULS. Every person in 
the circumstances described must be familiar with the cha 
racter and uses of a CONSUL, though perhaps they never 
heard the name before. The truth is, as from every dis 
trict of broad Scotland there are less or more settlers of all 
kinds of ranks and orders, so among these there is always 
one family or person who serves to the occasional visitors 
from that part of the country, as well as to the regular set 
tlers, all the purposes which a commercial Consul serves 
in a foreign port. The house of this person is a howff, or 
place of especial resort, to all and sundry connected with 
that particular locality. It is, in fact, the Consul-house 
of the district. Sometimes, when there is a considerable 
influx from a particular place, there is a Consul for almost 
every order of persons connected with that place, from the 
highest to the lowest. The Consul is a person generally 
an old lady of great kindliness of disposition, and who 



CONSULS. 307 

never can be put about by a visit at any time upon the 
most vaguely general invitation. Generally, a kind of open 
table a tea-table it is is kept every Sunday night, which 
is resorted to by all and sundry, like an "at home" in high 
life ; and though the Consul herself and some of her fa 
mily sit on certain defined and particular chairs during the 
whole evening, the rest are tenanted by relays of fresh 
visitors almost every hour, who pay their respects, take a 
cup, and, after a little conversation, depart. In general, 
the individuals resorting to these houses are as familiar 
with every particular of the system of the tea-table 
yea, with every cracked cup, and all the initials upon the 
silver spoons as the honest Consul herself. Community 
of nativity is the sole bond of this association, but hardly 
any could be stronger. A person from the country takes 
little interest in the gossip of the city, important as it 
may sometimes be. He likes to hear of all that is going 
on in the little village or parish from which he has been 
transplanted. All this, and more, he hears at the house 
of the Consul for that village, or parish, the same as you 
will be sure to find a London newspaper in the house of 
the British resident at Lisbon. Any death that may have 
happened there since his last visit any birth any mar 
riage any any-thing begets all in right trim at the Consul- 
house, with all the proper remarks, the whole having been 
imported on Thursday in the most regular manner by the 
carrier, or else on some other day by a visitant, who, though 
only a few hours in town, was sure to call there. At the 
Consul-house you will hear how the minister is now liked 
who is likely to get most votes in the coming election 

from whom Mrs bought her china when she was about 

to be married and the promise of the crops, almost to a 
sheaf or a potato. But the topics are of endless variety. 
One thing is remarkable. The most determined scandal 
is bandied about respecting their ancient neighbours ; and 
yet they all conspire to think that there is no sort of peo 
ple to be compared with them in the mass. They will let 



308 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

nobody talk ill of them but themselves. There is some 
times a considerable difference in the characters and 
ranks of the individuals who frequent a Consul-house. 
Perhaps you find, among persons of higher degree and 
more dignified age, apprentice lads, who, being the chil 
dren of old acquaintances of the Consul, are recommended 
by their mothers to spend their Sunday evenings here, as 
under a vicarial eye of supervision, and being sure to be 
out of harm's way in the house of so respectable a person. 
These stolid youths, with their raw untamed faces, form 
a curious contrast, occasionally, to the more polished in 
dividuals who have been longer about town, such as wri 
ters' clerks or licentiates of the church. Possibly they will 
sit you out five mortal hours in a Consul-house, without 
ever speaking a word, or even shifting their position on 
their chairs, staring with unvaried eyes, and hands compress 
ed between knees, right into the centre of the room, and 
hearing all that is going on as if they heard not. At length 
the young cub rises to go away, and the only remark is, 
" Well, Willie, are you going home? Good-night." After 
which, the Consul only remarks to the adults around her, 
* ' That's ane o' John Anderson's laddies a fine quiet cal- 
lant." But this holds good only respecting Consuls in a 
certain walk of life. There are houses where people of 
very high style, from a particular district, are wont to call 
and converse ; and there are dens in the inferior parts of 
the town, to which only serving girls or boys (there is no 
rank among boys) resort. Every place, every rank, has 
its Consul. And not only is the Consul valuable as an 
individual who keeps a Sunday evening conversazione. 
She actually does a great deal of business for the particular 
district which she represents. If a townswoman wants a 
gown dyed, or to obtain swatches of some new prints, or to 
purchase any peculiar article which requires some address 
in the purchasing, then is the Consul resorted to. A little 
square inexplicable epistle, with not nearly enough of 
fold to admit a wafer, and the phrase " for goods" on the 



COUNTRY AND TOWN ACQUAINTANCES. 309 

corner, supposed to be a kind of shibboleth that exempts 
letters from the laws of the Post-office, comes in with the 

carrier, requesting that Mrs will be so good as go to 

this or that shop, and do this and that and t'other thing, 
and send the whole out by return of Pate Fairgrieve, and the 
payment will be rendered at next visit to town. Thus the 
Consul is a vast commission-agent, with only this difference, 
that she makes nothing by it to compensate her immense 
outlay of capital. The duties, however, of the Consulate 
are their own reward ; and we doubt if Brutus, who first as 
sumed the office, bore it with a prouder head or more satis 
fied heart, than many individuals whom we could point out. 
Henceforth, we do not doubt, people will refer to the days 
when such and such a person was Consul for their native 
village, in a style similar to the ancient chronology of 
Rome; and " Consule Tullo" itself will not be more fa 
miliar or more memorable language, than " in the Consu 
late [shall we so suppose?] of Mrs Bathgate !" 



COUNTRY AND TOWN ACQUAINTANCES. 

THE exact balance of favours in ordinary acquaintance 
ship is a matter very difficult to be adjusted. Sometimes 
people think they are giving more entertainments than they 
get, and on other occasions you would suppose that they 
are mortally offended at their friends for riot coming oftener 
to eat of their meat and drink of their cup. It is hard to 
say whether a desire of reserving or of squandering victuals 
predominates ; for though one would argue that it is more 
natural to keep what one has than to give it away for no 
thing, yet, to judge by the common talk of the world, you 
are far more likely to give offence by coming too seldom 
than by coming too often to the tables of your friends. 
From this cause, I have often been amused to hear people, 



310 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

about whose company I was not very solicitous, making 
the most abject apologies for having visited me so seldom 
of late, but promising to behave a great deal better for the 
future that is to say, to give me henceforward much more 
of what I never desired before, even in the smallest por 
tions. 

But this kindness of language is not confined to the 
party threatening a visit : the party threatened is also 
given to use equally sweet terms of discourse. " Really, 
you have been a great stranger lately. We thought we 
never were to see you again. What is there to hinder 
you of an evening to come over and chat a little, or take 
a hand with the Doctor and Eliza at whist ? We are al 
ways so happy to see you. I assure you we are resolved 
to take it very ill ; and if you don't repay our last visit, we 
will never see you again." With an equally amiable sin 
cerity, the shocking person with whom you have been long 
quite tired, having ceased to gain any amusement or any 
eclat from the acquaintance, replies, " I must confess I 
have been very remiss. Indeed, I was so ashamed of not 
having called upon you for such a length of time, that I 
could not venture to do it. But, now that the ice is bro 
ken, I really will come some night soon. You may depend 
upon it." And so the two part off their several ways, the 
one surprised at having been betrayed into so many expres 
sions of kindness towards an individual about whom he or 
she is quite indifferent, and the other, either benevolently 
resolving, in the simplicity of his heart, to pay the promised 
visit, or as much surprised at having been brought into 
circumstances where he was reduced to make such a pro 
mise which, however, as he is sure to forget it in a few 
minutes, is a matter of very little moment. If these, how 
ever, be the puzzlements which beset a town acquaintance 
ship, ten times more difficult is it to adjust the mutual 
rights and balance of advantages appertaining to one in 
which the one party is of the town, and the other of the 
country. In most such cases, either the one party or tl*e 



COUNTRY AND TOWN ACQUAINTANCES. 311 

other has great and real cause of complaint. For example, 
a citizen of tolerable style, who has been confined to some 
laborious employment all the year round, amidst gas-light 
within doors, and a foggy and smoky atmosphere without, 
with what delight does he throw himself into the country 
some fine sunshiny day in September, for the purpose of 
paying a long-promised visit of three days to a country 
friend ! He is received with boundless hospitality. The 
best bedroom, situated in that part of the house where you 
generally find a city drawing-room, is aired and provided 
in the most agreeable manner for his accommodation. The 
goodman rides about with him all day, and dines and drinks 
with him all night, except during those intervals when the 
lady or her daughters solace him with tunes on the piano, 
learned many years ago at a boarding-school in town. The 
whole house, in fact, from the worthy agriculturist-in-chief 
to the chicken that has latest chipped in the barn-yard, are 
at his service, and he drinks in health, and rapture, and a 
taste for natural objects, every hour. The three days are 
imperceptibly elongated to as many weeks, till at last he has 
become just like one of the family, calls the lady goodwife, 
and the daughters by their abbreviated Christian names, 
and is a very brother and more to his excellent entertainer. 
At length, replenished with as much health as will serve 
him through a whole twelvemonth of city life, rosy in 
cheek and in gill, sturdy as a pine on the hills, and thick 
ened immensely about the centre of his person, he finds it 
necessary to take his leave. The whole of the worthy 
ruralists gather about him, and, as if not satisfied with 
what they have already done for him while he was in their 
presence, load him with other acts of kindness, the effect 
of which is only to be experienced on the way, or after 
he has reached his own home. If he could carry a ewe 
cheese on each side, like the bottles of John Gilpin, they 
would have no objection to give them. In fact, there is 
no bounds to the kindness, the sincere heartfelt kindness, 
of these people, except his capacity or willingness to re- 



312 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ceive. Of course, he feels all this most warmly for the 
time ; and while the impression is strong upon him, he 
counter-invites right and left. The goodman is never to 
be a day in town without coming to take pot-luck. The 
ladies are to come in next winter, on purpose, and have a 
month of the amusements of the town, residing in his house. 
Any of their friends whatsoever, even unto the fourth 
generation, or no generation at all, he will be delighted to 
see, whenever they are in the city. He throws himself, 
his bosom, his house all, all, open to them. But what 
is the real result of all this? He goes back to town, 
and resumes the serious labours of his profession. The 
roses fade from his cheeks, and gratitude from his heart. 
Some day, when he is up to the ears in a mysterious green 
box, like a pig in his trough, or a pullet in a well ; or per 
haps some day as he is rushing swiftly along the streets, 
intent upon some piece of important business, his city eyes 
awake upon a vision of the country, in the shape of that 
very friend who so lately was rendering him so many acts 
of kindness. The case is felt at once to be a scrape ; 
however, he must make the best of it. With almost 
breathless apprehension, he asks Mr Goodman what stay 
he is going to make in town. What joy ! he goes within 
an hour to Falkirk tryst ! But, ah ! this is but a short 
relief. He comes back the day after to-morrow, and can 
then spend a day. Well, a day it must be : it is all settled 
in a moment, and, three minutes after having entered the 
house, Mr Goodman finds himself shaken by the hand out 
at the door, which is closed behind him ere he can well be 
lieve that he has as yet seen his city friend. He walks a 
little way in a confused state of mind, hardly able to say 
distinctly that he is himself, or that his late guest is the 
identical good fellow he seemed to be three months ago. 
The whole appears a dream, and he thinks it must be hours 
since he entered the house, though it is only minutes. 
Falkirk tryst over, he cornes back, and, at the appointed 
hour, attends his city acquaintance, who, meanwhile, hav- 



COUNTRY AND TOWN ACQUAINTANCES. 313 

ing consulted with his spouse, has taken the opportunity, 
since there was to be a dinner at any rate, to invite all the 
stiff people he knows, in order to pay off his old debts. 
The honest agriculturist gets a place among the rest, per 
haps a good one, but in such a scene he finds no enter 
tainment, and hardly gets a word of conversation with his 
friend during the whole evening. At the proper hour he 
rises to take his leave among the rest. The host inquires 
when he leaves town this is always a leading question 
for a country friend hears, to his unspeakable comfort, 
that it is to be by the morning coach and so good-night. 
Of course, after this, there is little inducement for Mr 
Goodman to send his daughters to spend a month in the 
house of his city friend. The girls, however, do come in 
somehow or other, and are living with some other person 
on a visit, when one day, walking along the most crowded 
and fashionable street, they meet their father's friend arm 
in arm with his wife. Seeing that they have first perceived 
him, he runs forward in the kindest manner, and, after in 
troducing them to his partner, inquires afte*- every parti 
cular individual left at home. Some miscellaneous talk 
ensues, and then, just at the skirts of the conversation, 
when they are hovering on the point of separation, he 
throws in, " You will be sure to see us some evening be 
fore you leave town." And then and then there is no 
more about it. 

A varied case often occurs as follows : A young lady 
of perfect accomplishments, though of the middle ranks 
of life, happens to be particularly convenient to a neigh 
bouring family of gentry in the country, where she is con 
stantly invited by them, and becomes the bosom friend of 
all the young ladies, but only because her accomplishments 
are useful to them as a means of spending their time. But 
this acquaintance, though of use in the country, and there 
felt as involving no risk of dignity, becomes inconvenient 
when the parties happen to meet in town. The high-born 
demoiselle, who elsewhere would have rushed into the 



314 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

arms of her humble but ingenious friend, now tamely shakes 
her hand, and, with cold complaisance, addresses her thus : 
" Mamma is keeping no company this winter, but I dare 
say she would be glad to see you some evening to tea : and 
good- morning." Such is the world ! 



WHERE IS MY TRUNK? 

IT is well known in Scotland that the road from Edin 
burgh to Dundee, though only forty-three miles in extent, 
is rendered tedious and troublesome by the interposition 
of two arms of the sea, namely, the Friths of Forth and 
Tay, one of which is seven, and the other three miles 
across. Several rapid and well-conducted stage-coaches 
travel upon this road ; but, from their frequent loading and 
unloading at&the ferries, there is not only considerable de 
lay to the travellers, but also rather more than the usual 
risk of damage and loss to their luggage. On one occasion 
it happened that the common chances against the safety 
of a traveller's integuments were multiplied in a mysteri 
ous, but most amusing manner as the foUowing little 
narrative will show. 

The gentleman in question was an inside passenger a 
very tall man, which was so much the worse for him in that 
situation and it appeared that his whole baggage consisted 
of a single black trunk one of medium size, and no way 
remarkable in appearance. On our leaving Edinburgh, 
this trunk had been disposed in the boot of the coach, 
amidst a great variety of other trunks, bundles, and carpet 
bags, belonging to the rest of the passengers. 

Having arrived at Newhaven, the luggage was brought 
forth from the coach, and disposed upon a barrow, in order 
that it might be taken down to the steam-boat which was 



WHERE IS MY TRUNK? 315 

to convey us across. Just as the barrow was moving off, 
the tall gentleman said, 

" Guard, have you got my trunk?" 

" Oh, yes, sir," answered the guard ; " you may be sure 
it's there." 

" Not so sure of that," quoth the gentleman ; " where 
abouts is it ?" 

The guard poked into ihe barrow, and looked in vain 
among the numberless articles for the trunk. At length, 
after he had noozled about for two or three minutes 
through all the holes and corners of the mass of integu 
ments, he drew out his head, like a terrier tired of earth 
ing a badger, and seemed a little nonplussed. 

" Why, here it is in the boot !" exclaimed the passen 
ger, " snug at the bottom, where it might have remained, 
I suppose, for you, till safely returned to the coach-yard 
in Edinburgh." 

The guard made an awkward apology, put the trunk 
upon the barrow, and away we all went to the steam 
boat. 

Nothing farther occurred till we were all standing be 
side the coach at Pettycur, ready to proceed on our jour 
ney through Fife. 

Every thing seemed to have been stowed into the coach, 
and most of the passengers had taken their proper places, 
when the tall gentleman cried out, 

" Guard, where is my trunk ?" 

" In the boot, sir," answered the guard ; "you may de 
pend upon that." 

" I have not seen it put in," said the passenger, " and 
I don't believe it is there." 

" Oh, sir," said the guard, quite distressed, " there can 
surely be no doubt about the trunk now." 

"There! I declare there!" cried the owner of the 
missing property ; " my trunk is still lying down yonder 
upon the sands. Don't you see it ? The sea, I declare, 
is just about reaching it. What a careless set of por- 



316 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

ters ! I protest I never was so treated on any journey 
before." 

The trunk was instantly rescued from its somewhat 
perilous situation, and, all having been at length put to 
rights, we went on our way to Cupar. 

Here the coach stops a few minutes at the inn, and 
there is generally a partial discharge cf passengers. As 
some individuals, on the present occasion, had to leave 
the coach, there was a slight discomposure of the luggage, 
and various trunks and bundles were presently seen de 
parting on the backs of porters, after the gentlemen to 
whom they belonged. After all seemed to have been 
again put to rights, the tall gentleman made his wonted 
inquiry respecting his trunk. 

" The trunk, sir," said the guard, rather pettishly, " is 
in the boot." 

" Not a bit of it," said its owner, who in the meantime 
had been peering about. " There it lies in the lobby of 
the inn !" 

The guard now began to think that this trunk was in 
some way bewitched, and possessed a power, unenjoyed 
by other earthly trunks, of removing itself or staying be 
hind, according to its own good pleasure. 

" The Lord have a care o' us !" cried the astonished 
custodier of baggage, who, to do him justice, seemed an 
exceedingly sober and attentive person. " The Lord have 
a care o' us, sir ! That trunk's no canny." * 

" It's canny enough, you fool," said the gentleman 
sharply ; " but only you don't pay proper attention to it." 

The fact was, that the trunk had been taken out of the 
coach and placed in the lobby, in order to allow of certain 
other articles being got at which lay beneath. It was now 
once more stowed away, and we set forward upon the re 
maining part of our journey, hoping that there would be 

Not innocent a phrase applied by the common people in Scotland to 
any thing which they suppose invested with supernatural powers of a noxious 
kind. 



WHERE IS MY TRUNK? 317 

no more disturbance about this pestilent member of the 
community of trunks. All was right till we came to the 
lonely inn of St Michael's, where a side-road turns off to 
St Andrew's, and where it happened that a passenger had 
to leave us to walk to that seat of learning, a servant hav 
ing been in waiting to carry his luggage. 

The tall gentleman, hearing a bustle about the boot, 
projected his immensely long slender body through the 
coach window, in order, like the lady in the fairy tale, to 
see what he could see. 

" Hollo, fellow !" cried he to the servant following the 
gentleman down the St Andrew's road; "is not that my 
trunk ? Come back, if you please, and let me inspect 
it." 

" The trunk, sir," interposed the guard, in a sententious 
manner, " is that gemman's trunk, and not yours : yours 
is in the boot." 

" We'll make sure of that, Mr Guard, if you please. 
Come back, my good fellow, and let me see the trunk you 
have got with you." 

The trunk was accordingly brought back, and, to the 
confusion of the guard, who had thought himself fairly in 
fallible for this time, it was the tall man's property, as clear 
as brass nails could make it. 

The trunk was now the universal subject of talk, both 
inside and outside, and every body said he would be sur 
prised if it got to its journey's end in safety. All agreed 
that it manifested a most extraordinary disposition to be 
lost, stolen, or strayed, but yet every one thought that 
there was a kind of special providence about it, which kept 
it on the right road after all ; and, therefore, it became a 
fair subject of debate, whether the chances against, or the 
chances for, were likely to prevail. 

Before we arrived at Newport, where we had to go on 
board the ferry steam-boat for Dundee, the conversation 
had gone into other channels, and, each being engaged 
about his own concerns, no one thought any more about 



318 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

the trunk, till just as the barrow was descending along the 
pier, the eternal long man cried out, 

" Guard, have you got my trunk?" 

" Oh, yes," cried the guard very promptly ; " I've taken 
care of it now. There it is on the top of all." 

" It's no such thing," cried a gentleman who had come 
into the coach at Cupar; " that's my trunk." 

Everybody then looked about for the enchanted trunk ; 
the guard ran back, and once more searched the boot, which 
he knew to have been searched to the bottom before ; and 
the tall gentleman gazed over land, water, and sky, in quest 
of his necessary property. 

" Well, guard," cried he at length, " what apretty fellow 
you ate ! There, don't you see ? there's my trunk thrust 
into the shed like a piece of lumber !" 

And so it really was At the head of the pier at New 
port there is a shed, with seats within, where people wait 
for the ferry-boats ; and there, perdu beneath a form, lay 
the enchanted trunk, having been so disposed, in the bustle 
of unloading, by means which nobody could pretend to 
understand. The guard, with a half-frightened look, ap 
proached the awful object, and soon placed it with the 
other things on board the ferry-boat. 

On our landing at Dundee pier, the proprietor of the 
trunk saw so well after it himself, that it was evident no 
accident was for this time to be expected. However, it 
appeared that this was only a lull to our attention. The 
tall gentleman was to go on to Aberdeen by a coach then 
just about to start from Merchant's Inn ; while I, for my 
part, was to proceed by another coach, which was about to 
proceed from the same place to Perth. A great bustle took 
place in the narrow street at the inn door, and some of my 
late fellow-travellers were getting into the one coach, and 
some into the other. The Aberdeen coach was soonest 
prepared to start, and, just as the guard cried "all's right," 
the long figure devolved from the window, and said, in an 
anxious tone of voice, 



WHERE IS MY TRUNK? 319 

" " Guard, have you got my trunk?" 

" Your trunk, sir !" cried the man ; " what like is your 
trunk? we have nothing here but bags and baskets." 

" Heaven preserve me!" exclaimed the unfortunate gen 
tleman, and burst out of the coach. 

It immediately appeared that the trunk had been de 
posited by mistake in the Perth, instead of the Aberdeen 
coach ; and unless the owner had spoken, it would have 
been, in less than an hour, half way up the Carse of 
Gowrie. A transfer was immediately made, to the_ no 
small amusement of myself and one or two other persons 
in both coaches who had witnessed its previous misadven 
tures on the road through Fife. Seeing a friend on the 
Aberdeen vehicle, I took an opportunity of privately re 
questing that he would, on arriving at his destination, send 
mean account by post of all the further mistakes and dan 
gers which were sure to befall the trunk in the course of 
the journey. To this he agreed, and, about a week after, 
I received the following letter : 

" DEAR , , 

" All went well with myself, my fellow travellers, and 
THE TRUNK, till we had got a few miles on this side of 
Stonehaven, when, just as we were passing one of the 
boggiest parts of the whole of that boggy road, an unfor 
tunate lurch threw us over upon one side, and the exterior 
passengers, along with several heavy articles of luggage, 
were all projected several yards off into the morass. As 
the place was rather soft, nobody was much hurt ; but, 
after everything had been again put to rights, the tall man 
put some two-thirds of himself through the coach window, 
in his usual manner, and asked the guard if he was sure the 
trunk was safe in the boot. 

" ' Oh Lord, sir !' cried the guard, as if a desperate idea 
had at that moment rushed into his mind ; ' the trunk was 
on the top. Has nobody seen it lying about any where?' 

" ' If it be a trunk ye're looking after,' cried a rustic, 



320 SPIRIT OF CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL. 

very coolly, ' I saw it sink into that well-ee* a quarter of 
an hour syne.' 

" ' Good God!' exclaimed the distracted owner, 'my 
trunk is gone for ever. Oh, my poor dear trunk ! where 
is the place show me where it disappeared !' 

" The place being pointed out, he rushed madly up to 
it, and seemed as if he would have plunged into the watery 
profound to search for his lost property, or die in the at 
tempt. Being informed that the bogs in this part of the 
country were perfectly bottomless, he soon saw how vain 
every endeavour of that kind would be ; and so he was 
with difficulty induced to resume his place in the coach, 
loudly threatening, however, to make the proprietors of 
the vehicle pay sweetly for his loss. 

" What was in the trunk, I have not been able to learn. 
Perhaps the title-deeds of an estate were among the con 
tents ; perhaps it was only filled with bricks and rags, in 
order to impose upon the innkeepers. In all likelihood, 
the mysterious object is still descending and descending, 
like the angel's hatchet in Rabbinical story, down the 
groundless abyss : in which case its contents will not pro 
bably be revealed till a great many things of more import 
ance and equal mystery are made plain." 

* The orifice of a deep pool in a morass is so called in Scotland. 



END OF THE VOLUME. 



Printed by W. and R. CHAMBERS, 
19, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh. 



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